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Ambassador Liu Guijin: President Hu's state visit to South Africa pushs strategic partnership to new high

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President Hu Jintao of the People's Republic of China, at the invitation of Presidents of Cameroon, Liberia, Sudan, Zambia, Namibia, South Africa, Mozambique and the Seychelles, will pay state visits to those eight African countries from January 30 to February 10, 2007. It will be the first state visit paid by President Hu this year as well as another major event in the history of China-Africa relations following the Beijing Summit of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation. The priority of the visit is to implement the outcome of the Beijing Summit and comprehensively promote the pragmatic cooperation between China and Africa. The visit is of great significance to enhancing the friendly cooperation between China and the eight countries and consolidating and developing the traditional friendship and cooperation between China and Africa.

President Hu's state visit to the Republic of South Africa from February 6 to 8 is of great importance and significance and will surely push the strategic partnership between the two countries to a higher level. Both China and South Africa attach great importance to this visit and are working closely together to make preparations for the event. During the visit, President Hu will hold talks with President Mbeki and deliver an important speech at the University of Pretoria oriented to all the African youth, a joint communiqué between the two countries will be released, a number of important documents on cooperation will be signed and China is expected to take new initiatives to support South African government's efforts in implementing ASGISA and agricultural development. Next year will be the 10th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic ties between the two countries and the visit of President Hu will open the prelude of the celebrations.

Over years the Chinese government and people supported the just struggle of the South African people against apartheid and have built profound friendship with the South African people. Since the establishment of diplomatic ties on January 1, 1998, bilateral relations have witnessed an all-round and rapid development. In 2000, the two countries signed the Pretoria Declaration on partnership relations, followed by the establishment of the Bi-National Commission (BNC). In 2004, China and South Africa further defined their relations as "strategic partnership of equality, mutual benefit and common development". In 2006, China and South Africa signed Program of Cooperation on Deepening the Strategic Partnership. Mutual trust has been steadily enhanced along with frequent exchanges of high-level visits. In 2006, Premier Wen Jiabao paid a highly successful official visit to South Africa. President Mbeki attended the Beijing Summit and paid a state visit to China.

China and South Africa enjoy fruitful cooperation in the areas of economy and trade, science, technology and culture. South Africa is China's second biggest trade partner in Africa and China is South Africa's fifth biggest trade partner. In 2006, the bilateral trade volume reached US$9.856 billion, up 35.6% over the previous year, and the two-way contractual investment volume amounted to US$1.31 billion, with China's contractual investment in South Africa reached US$530 million. South Africa is one of the African countries receiving the largest number of Chinese tourists, with over 40,000 Chinese citizens traveling to South Africa in 2005. The success of the grand cultural event "Experiencing China in South Africa" held in last November received warm response.

Cooperation on regional and international issues has been intensified. South Africa supports China on issues bearing on China's major concerns. China supports South Africa in playing an even greater role in African affairs and works closely with South Africa to safeguard the legitimate rights and interests of developing countries. China-South Africa friendly cooperation constitutes a very important part of South-South cooperation.

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