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Remarks by H.E. Amb.Lin Songtian of China to South Africa at the Reception in Celebration of the Chinese New Year

Honorable Mr. Derek Hanekom,

Minister of Tourism, Mrs.Hanecom

Hon. Dr. Lubisi, Director-General of the Presidency,

and Mrs. Lubisi,

Y.E. Abm.Losi, Chief of the State Protocol and DDG of DIRCO,

Y.E. Mr.Monyela, DDG and Spokesperson of DIRCO,

Y.E. Amb. Genge, Acting DDG of DIRCO, and your family,

Respected Mr. Jackie Mckay, DDG of Home Affairs Department and Your Family,

Respected Major General Mbatha of SA National Defence

and Mrs. Mbatha

Senior Officials from SA Government, National Defence and Political Parties

Your Excellencies, Ambassadors

and High Commissioners from Brics and Asia

Dear Compatriots from HK,Taiwan,Macao and Mainland China,

Distinguished Guests, Dear Friends All Present Here,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Good Evening!

Warm welcome and sincere appreciation to you all for joining us in celebration of the Chinese Lunar New Year of the Pig.

The Chinese Lunar New Year, or we call the Spring Festival, is the traditional Chinese festival for family reunion. It is also the most important occasion to appreciate and celebrate what has been done in the past year and wish for a more prosperous and happy new year. In Chinese culture, the year of the Pig means good luck, good health, prosperity and happiness.

Therefore, on behalf of the Chinese Government and Embassy in South Africa, I would like to extend to you all the best New Year. Wish you all good luck, good health, happiness and prosperity!

Today, we are hosting this Reception for three major purposes: first, to express our sincere appreciation for the important contribution you have made to promote China-SA relations, to deepen mutually beneficial cooperation, mutual understanding and friendship; second, to jointly pray for a new development of China-SA relations and more benefits to our two peoples in the new year; and third, to appreciate together with our friends the diverse Chinese tradition and culture, and share happiness, prosperity and harmony of the Chinese New Year. And most importantly, through this event we expect sincerely more tourists and investors will exchange to South Africa and China.

On this occasion, I would like to express our special thanks to the famous Martial Arts Troupe from Tianjin, coming far from China. I am very sure that they are ready to present us a most wonderful Chinese cultural show tonight. My special thanks would also go to the Sun Group of South Africa for generously providing such an exceptional arena for our celebration, and also the Shunde Chinese Restaurant for the superb Chinese food. Last but not least, I want to sincerely thank Mr. Gao Guoqiang who has been in South Afirca for years for his relentless and unselfish efforts in coordinating and making everything here possible tonight. Thank you all again for making this event happen.

Your Honorable Minister, Ladies and Gentlemen,

The year 2018 is of special significance to China, the Chinese people and Chinese nation. It marks the 40th anniversary of China’s reform and opening up. In the past 40 years, the Communist Party of China (CPC) has united and led the Chinese people to stay committed to the path of socialism with Chinese characteristics suited to China’s national conditions, stay committed to economic development as our central task, and stay committed to the people-centered philosophy of development, transforming China from an extremely poor and backward country to now the world's second largest economy, the largest manufacturer, the largest trader of goods, and the largest holder of foreign exchange reserve, the second largest consumer market, and the third largest foreign investor.

In the past 40 years, China’s GDP has averaged 9.5% annual growth rate in comparable prices and China’s per capita GDP has soared from US$227 to nearly US$10,000 last year. China has contributed about 30% to world economic growth. Most importantly, China’s development has benefited all the Chinese people. 750 million Chinese people have been lifted out of poverty. And by the end of 2020, poverty will be completely eliminated across the entire 1.4 billion Chinese population. China has created a new development miracle for the mankind and set up a new model for world human rights.

In 2018, facing severe challenges of sluggish world economic growth and surging protectionism from global trade wars, the Chinese government and people, under the strong leadership of the CPC Central Committee with Comrade Xi Jinping as the core, remained steadfast to deepening reform and opening up, remained steadfast to innovative and high-quality development, and achieved new progress in its social and economic development.

China’s GDP in 2018 surpassed US$ 13.7 trillion, registering an increase of 6.6% over the year before; China’s total trade of goods exceeded US$ 4.62 trillion, increasing by 12.6% over the last year. Particularly, China’s export to the USA increased by 11.3%. In 2018, there were 18,000 new enterprises registered in China every day; over 13.6 million new jobs were created; and over 10 million rural residents were lifted out of poverty.

In 2018, while the Belt and Road Initiative achieved great success, China successfully held the first ever International Import Expo in the world, demonstrating our firm commitment to opening up our market, and sharing the opportunities with the rest of the world for common development .

Your Honorable Minister, Ladies and Gentlemen,

The year 2018 marks a momentous year for China-South Africa and China-Africa relations. In July, H.E. President Xi Jinping paid a successful state visit to South Africa for the third time and attended the BRICS Johannesburg Summit, making South Africa the only country in the world that President Xi paid three state visits to. In September, H.E. President Cyril Ramaphosa of South Africa paid his first and successful state visit to China and co-chaired the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) Beijing Summit with President Xi.

Such intensive interactions and in-depth exchanges between the two heads of state have greatly enhanced political and strategic mutual trust between our two countries, drawn up a new blueprint for and inject new impetus into the development of China-South Africa and China-Africa relations and lifted the friendly and mutually beneficial cooperation to a new height.

The year 2018 also marks the 20th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic ties between China and South Africa. With our joint efforts, the bilateral relations have realized a triple jump from partnership to strategic partnership and now to comprehensive strategic partnership, bringing tangible benefits to our two peoples. China has become South Africa’s largest trading partner for ten consecutive years and most important source of foreign investment and tourists. South Africa has become China’s biggest trading partner in Africa for nine consecutive years. Last year, our bilateral trade reached US$43.55 billion, an increase of 11.18% over the year before.Up to now, direct investment from China to South Africa has reached over US$ 25 billion, creating more than 400,000 jobs for South Africans.

Your Honorable Minister, Ladies and Gentlemen,

The year 2019 will be the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China. The Chinese Government and people are ready to seize the new opportunity of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, continue to deepen reform and keep opening up, and promote innovative and high-quality development domestically. And China will be sure to make greater contribution to the building of a community of shared future for mankind and a new type of international relations.

2019 will the year of golden harvest for China-South Africa relations. The blueprint has been drawn up by our two heads of state. Our common mission now is to take actions, actions, and actions. China is ready to work closely with South African side to implement each and every important consensus reached by the two heads of state and the outcomes of FOCAC Beijing Summit. China is ready to support South Africa to become a locomotive and production base for African industrialization and modernization and the pilot country for connecting the Belt and Road Initiative with Africa, and of course become the best destination for Chinese tourists in Africa, so as to make China-South Africa comprehensive strategic partnership more productive and beneficial to our two countries and two peoples.

In my conclusion, may I have an honour to invite you all to join me for a toast to the good health, good luck and a peaceful and prosperous Happy New Year to our two presidents, our two peoples and all the friends present here, 干杯!

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