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Renowned South African Experts Winning the Chinese Government Friendship Award Speak Highly of China's Development Achievements

On October 15th, H.E. Ambassador Lin Songtian and his wife Ni Lingling cordially met with the 2019 Chinese Government Friendship Award winner, professor Ian Keith Craig and the 2009 winner,professor Willem Van Niekerk and their spouses at the China Embassy in South Africa. Mr. Daan Du Toit, DDG of the Department of Science and Innovation of South Africa, Ms. Punkah Madka, Acting Director of International Cooperation of DSI, and S&T Counselor Hou Lihong of China Embassy also participated in the event.

On behalf of the Chinese government and the Chinese people, H.E. Ambassador Lin expressed warm congratulations and heartfelt thanks to the award-winning South African experts for their efforts to promote the building of an innovative country in China, to strengthen China-South Africa scientific and technological innovation cooperation, and to promote friendly exchanges between China and South Africa. H.E. Ambassador Lin also expressed appreciation to the efficient and close cooperation of DSI of South Africa..

H.E. Ambassador Lin said that over the past 70 years since the founding of the People's Republic of China, especially more than 40 years of reform and opening up, China's economic and social development has made remarkable achievements and achieved the great leap from standing up to becoming rich and getting strong. This is derived from the wise leadership of the Communist Party of China, the historic decision of reform and opening up, the self-improvement and unremitting efforts of hundreds of millions of Chinese people, and at the same time, the support and help of foreign experts and international friends.

H.E. Ambassador Lin also said that since the 18th National Congress of the Communist Party of China, the Communist Party of China, with Comrade Xi Jinping as the core, has united and led the people of all ethnic groups in the country to tackle four tough issues in the world: First, Sweeping efforts have been made to see the Party self-governance exercised fully and with rigor, and govern the state by rule of law in a comprehensive manner, having been installing and perfecting the mechanism that all the Party members and government officials now do not dare to, are unable to and have no desire to engage in any corruption. Second, He is committed to green and innovation-driven development and is resolute in winning the battle of treating and preventing environmental pollution so as to ensure our people enjoy blue skies, clear waters and green mountains again. Third, He is committed to the concept of “putting people first” and inclusive development.By the end of 2020, all of China's 1.4 billion people will be lifted out of poverty with no one left behind. Fourth, President Xi put forward the great vision that the international community shall jointly stay committed to building a community with a shared future for mankind, and proposed several pathways to realize this great vision, such as the implementation of Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), the forging of a new type of international relations, the pursuing of common development and so on.

H.E.Ambassador Lin also said that Africa is a continent that has already been and is emerging. China and Africa have complementary advantages and reciprocal needs. China and South Africa are comprehensive strategic partners. The two peoples have established comradely and brotherly friendship. Chinese people will never forget that ever since the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and South Africa, South African experts have brought advanced technology, experience and management to China in various areas such as road traffic, biotechnology, mine safety and high-tech investment, and have contributed to China's modernization drive. At present, the development and transformation of South Africa is facing the “three major development bottlenecks” of backward infrastructure, shortage of talents and foreign investments. China is willing to strengthen cooperation in S&T education between the two countries, helping South Africa to accelerate the pace of industrialization and modernization, to better prepare and embrace the arrival of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, thus achieving win-win cooperation and common development with South Africa.

Professor Craig and Professor Van Niekerk extolled China's development achievements, warmly congratulated the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China, and were deeply grateful to the Chinese government for the award and happily recalled their working and living experience in China. Professor Craig was very proud of witnessing the grand military parade and super-large celebration activities commemorating the 70th anniversary of the founding of New China, his wife repeatedly said that "we love China." The two professors said that they will create conditions, give full play to their strengths, continue to strengthen exchanges and cooperation with China, actively participate in China-South Africa STI cooperation, and are willing to tell the South African people stories about China's development achievements and contribute to deepening the friendship between the two peoples.

DDG Daan Du Toit of DSI, representing H.E. Minister Dr. Blade Nzimande, expressed his congratulations to the South African experts who won the Chinese Government Friendship Award and sincere gratitude to the Chinese government for conferring its high honors to South African experts. DDG Daan Du Toit said that DSI cherishes the scientific innovation partnership with China. On the 12th of this month, both ministers of science and technology met for the first time in Germany on the sidelines of Carnegie Group Meeting of S&T Ministers, which has created favorable conditions for deepening the STI cooperation between the two countries. South Africa is willing to continue to strengthen cooperation, promote the implementation of the important consensus of the two heads of state, deepen bilateral and multilateral science, technology and innovation coordination, and contribute to the economic and social development of the two countries.

H.E. Ambassador Lin also elaborated on China's positions and principles on the situation in Hong Kong and the current frictions between China and the United States to gain understanding and support.

The Chinese Government Friendship Award is an annual award issued by the Chinese government to honor experts’ working in China. Since its establishment in 1991, a total of 1699 foreign experts have won the award. In the year of 2019, 100 experts from 31 countries have been conferred with this honor. Premier Li Keqiang and Executive Vice Premier Han Zheng met with the foreign experts winning the 2019 award and their family members in the Great Hall of the People in Beijing.

Mr. Ian Keith Craig is the professor of control systems of the University of Pretoria. He is the only winner of Chinese Government Friendship Award in Africa this year and the sixth South African who had been conferred with this honor. He was the chair of International Federation of Automatic Control (IFAC) from 2008 to 2014. On October 1st, Professor Craig and his wife were invited to witness the grand military parade and super-large celebration activities commemorating the 70th anniversary of the founding of New China.

Mr. Willem Van Niekerk is the professor of animal and wildlife sciences of the University of Pretoria. He was the chair of International Boer Goat Federation. He is the winner of 2009 Chinese Government Friendship Award.

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