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Respect for Women is an Important Manifestation of Civilized Society
by H.E. Amb. Lin Songtian at the 2019 Joint Commemoration of the International Women's Day

Honorable Comrade Matuba , Secretary General of the ANC Women's League,

Distinguished Guests,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Good afternoon.

First of all, let me extend the warmest welcome to all the ladies of the ANC Women's League to the Chinese Embassy and join the ladies of the Embassy in celebrating 2019 International Women's Day.

On this occasion of the International Women's Day, on behalf of the Communist Party of China and the Chinese government, I would like to express our sincere festive greetings to all the women and dear sisters present here, and through ANCWL, to all the women and sisters in South Africa. I would also like to express my heartfelt thanks to the South African friends who have long cared about and supported the development of the women affairs of China.

The International Women's Day was initiated because of the anticipation of the oppressed women who were fighting for freedom, equality and happiness. We are glad to see that with their wisdom, hard work, courage and commitment, the Chinese and African women have made unremitting efforts to seek their own liberation and development and promote human civilization and progress, setting a good example for working women around the world. Women's liberation and equality between men and women have become an irreversible historical trend in the international community.

In China's thousands of years of feudal society, the feudal ideology of "men were superior to women" seriously deprived women of the rights to education and the pursuit of freedom and happiness, forcing women to accept the unequal gender system in terms of ideology and behavior.

It was not until the founding of the People's Republic of China in 1949 that the shackles of the feudal ideology of "men were superior to women" which had lasted in ancient China for thousands of years were completely shook off. Women's liberation had been realized. The Chinese women therefore gain equal rights as men in politics, economy, culture, education, social and family life and so on, and become the masters of the country and their families. Equality between men and women, especially the equal enjoyment of human dignity, has been guaranteed by China's constitution and laws. China has not only eliminated discrimination against women, but also legislated to protect women's special rights in accordance with the laws.

First is the equal right to receive education. We firmly believe that equality in education is an important precondition and guarantee for achieving gender equality. To focus on young girls' education is to focus on the future of the nation. Only equality in education can realize the equality of political, economic, social rights and family status. Nine-year compulsory education has been implemented in China. All school-age children, regardless of gender, urban and rural areas, should receive nine-year compulsory education. Since the end of 1970s, China has adopted a unified examination system for higher education, in which admission is determined by test scores rather than gender. As a result, in China more female students than male are enrolled in higher education. According to statistics, the proportion of female students in colleges and universities reached 52.54% in 2017, more than five percent higher than that of male students (47.46%).

Second is the fundamental change in the concept of gender equality. In the past, due to poverty, Chinese people preferred to have boys in order to get more strong labor force, and a few rural families even abandoned baby girls. But now the country has developed, there has been a fundamental shift in thinking. People care more about quality than gender, and more families prefer girls. Here is a true story: A Chinese young couple whose firstborn was a son, decided to have a second child. When their second child who in fact were twin boys were given birth, the couple burst into cry because they had to struggle to provide their three sons with good education and three apartments to get married. Now, the Chinese government is encouraging young couples to have a second child, but the young couples are very cautious because they are worried that the second child would be twin boys.

Third is the equal rights to the construction of the country and participation of state affairs. Today, Chinese woman is not only the CEO of every family, a good wife, a loving mother and a dutiful daughter, but also actively engages in social practice and fully involves in nation building. They have become a new force in China's reform and opening up and modernization, and have made important contributions in various fields. In 2017, women accounted for 43.5% of all employed people in China. In 2018, female representatives accounted for 24.9% of the 2,980 representatives of the 13th NPC in 2018. Under the strong leadership of the CPC, there are and must be women in leadership positions at all levels of the party and government, from central government to local levels.

Madame SG, Ladies and Gentlemen,

The development of women's cause is an important force for the progress of human civilization. Respecting women and achieving gender equality is the common goal of the international community and an important manifestation of civilized society. Throughout history, without women's liberation and progress, there would be no human civilization and progress. Women have not only assumed family responsibilities, but also borne important social responsibilities. They are the decisive force to ensure family happiness, maintain social stability and promote national development.

We are pleased to see that women in African countries are playing a greater role and making more contributions than men. Statistics from the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa show that women account for more than half of the total population in African countries and contribute 75% of the agricultural labor force. More than half of Africa's GDP is created by women.

I have long been devoting myself to developing China's relations with African countries. Up to now, I have visited 38 African countries. African women's wisdom, kindness, hardworking and perseverance has left a deep impression on me. They are not only active in politics in various countries as evidenced by female presidents and prime ministers, and many female cabinet ministers and members of parliament, but also active in business and the development of rural areas. The female leading CEOs and female business operators we can see everywhere in Africa, they do the farm work as well as run the household. It can be said loudly

that women have made unique contributions to family happiness, social stability and national development.

The women working in politics in South Africa and other African countries are incredibly active. By making unique contributions to the country, society and family, they have set a role model for the whole world. There are a large number of brilliant female cabinet ministers and members of parliament in South Africa, who have been fully participating in the deliberation of state affairs and active in politics and other fields. We are proud of the ANC Women's League, an organization of the representatives of outstanding women in South Africa.

There have been many women prime ministers and presidents in Africa. When I served as the Chinese Ambassador to Liberia in 2005, Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, the "Iron Lady" of Liberia, was successfully elected as the President of Liberia and became the first female president in Africa, which marked the beginning for African women to govern a country. I am very honored to have the opportunity to maintain very close personal and working relations with President Sirleaf and we had jointly promoted the rapid development of China-Liberia ties.

The women in China, South Africa and other African countries have the same or similar values, philosophies, traditional cultures and aspirations. Although far apart, they view each other as close sisters. As the Chinese Ambassador to South Africa, I am willing to make utmost efforts to support the ANC Women's League in conducting various forms of exchanges and cooperation in different areas with Chinese sisters and making China and South Africa relations more productive and fruitful so as to achieve win-win cooperation for common development.

Madame SG, Ladies and Gentlemen,

The year 2018 is a memorable year for China-South Africa relations. President Xi Jinping paid a very successful state visit to South Africa and attended the BRICS Johannesburg Summit, making South Africa the only country in the world that President Xi Jinping has paid three state visits to. After assuming office, President Cyril Ramaphosa paid his first and successful state visit to China and co-chaired the FOCAC Beijing Summit with President Xi Jinping. Such frequent interactions and in-depth exchanges between the two heads of state have greatly enhanced political and strategic mutual trust between our two countries and mapped up a new blueprint for and injected strong impetus into deepening our comprehensive strategic partnership.

The year 2018 also marks the 20th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and South Africa. Thanks to the unremitting efforts of our two sides, the China-South Africa relationship has achieved the leapfrog development from partnership, strategic partnership to comprehensive strategic partnership, which is defined by three major characteristics of being strategic, all-dimensional and mutual beneficial. It boasts four advantages, namely, political mutual trust, economically mutual beneficial, people-to-people friendship and international coordination, and is underpinned by four cooperation platforms of FOCAC, BRICS, the Belt and Road Initiative and South-South cooperation, thus delivering tangible benefits to our two peoples. China has remained the largest trading partner of South Africa for ten consecutive years and South Africa has remained the largest trading partner of China in Africa for nine years in a row. In 2018, the trade volume between China and South Africa reached 43.55 billion US dollars, up by 11.18% year on year and representing a 27-fold increase since the establishment of our diplomatic ties. Direct investment from China in South Africa exceeded 25 billion US dollars, increased by over one hundred times since the establishment of our diplomatic ties, creating over 400,000 jobs for South Africans. China has become the major source country for South Africa to attract foreign investment and tourists.

It is our belief that South Africa is the strongest African country in terms of overall national strength and enjoys three unique advantages of rich resources, superb location, and the best foundation and conditions for economic development. Most importantly, under the strong leadership of President Cyril Ramaphosa, the ANC government has made the top priority to attract foreign investment, grow economy, reduce poverty, create jobs and improve people's livelihood and is committed to improving government efficiency, building a safe and secure South Africa and creating more favorable investment environment.

We also believe that China-South Africa relations have now entered the golden time of harvest. China is committed ourselves to be the most reliable and important development partner for South Africa to achieve socioeconomic transformation development. China is ready to work closely with South Africa to implement the important consensus reached by the two heads of state and the important outcomes of the FOCAC Beijing Summit and the BRICS Johannesburg Summit. China is ready to support the efforts made by South Africa to become a locomotive and production base for African industrialization and modernization and a pilot country for synergizing the Belt and Road Initiative with Africa's development, so as to make China-South Africa comprehensive strategic partnership more productive and more beneficial to our two countries and two peoples.

Madame SG, Ladies and Gentlemen,

President Xi Jinping once said, "Without women, there would not have been mankind or society". Let us join hands and work closely to build a more beautiful world for all women and the mankind.

To my conclusion, I once again wish every and each lady present here a happy family, every success in your future endeavors and stay young forever. Thank you all !

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