The blossoming China-South Africa relationship has entered a ‘golden era,’ enjoying broad prospects and a promising future.
These sentiments were shared when President Cyril Ramaphosa met with his Chinese President Xi Jinping in Tshwane on Tuesday for a State Visit on the side-lines of the 15th BRICS Summit.
While meeting with Ramaphosa, the Chinese leader called on both sides to be strategic partners of high-level mutual trust, adding that “camaraderie and brotherhood” are the true quality of bilateral ties.
He added that the Chinese side is willing to strengthen inter-party exchanges and training cooperation with South Africa and help the African National Congress (ANC) with building the African Leadership Institute.
China and South Africa, said Xi, should be development partners for common progress.
He described mutual benefit and win-win results as the hallmark of China-South Africa cooperation, saying that the two sides should focus on advancing the Belt and Road Initiative, implementing the nine programs on China-Africa cooperation, as well as the 10-Year Strategic Programme on Cooperation between the two countries, consolidating cooperation in areas of strength and fostering new growth points for cooperation.
Over the years, bilateral ties have experienced what Xi described as “leapfrog development,” from a partnership to a strategic partnership and then to a comprehensive strategic partnership.
Official statistics showed that bilateral trade in 2022 reached 56.74 billion U.S. dollars, accounting for 20.1 per cent of China-Africa trade. And in the first half of the year, bilateral trade topped 28.25 billion dollars, up 11.7 per cent year-on-year.
China has remained South Africa’s largest trading partner for 14 consecutive years, while South Africa has been China’s biggest trading partner in Africa for 13 years in a row.
Meanwhile, South Africa has been one of the African countries with the largest stock of Chinese investment, which has risen to 10 billion dollars. More than 200 Chinese companies in South Africa have created over 400,000 local jobs. South African companies are also racing to invest in the Chinese market to seize its abundant business opportunities.
The pie of bilateral cooperation is increasing as South Africa’s wines, rooibos tea, and aloe vera gels are trending in the Chinese market. In contrast, automobiles and home appliances with Chinese brands have gained popularity among South African households.
And in a joint statement between the two countries issued after the two presidents’ meeting, both sides said they will consider working towards bilateral cooperation and synergy within the Belt and Road Initiative and the Economic Reconstruction and Recovery Plan frameworks.
Both sides also pledged to continue to seek the strengthening of cooperation in key areas such as infrastructure and logistics, trade and investment, manufacturing, agro-processing, energy and resources, the financial sector, the digital economy, science and technology, and green development, according to the statement.
During the talks, Xi said China will expand imports of South African products and encourage more Chinese enterprises to invest in South Africa.
Noting that poverty reduction, agricultural development programs and rural revitalization are important components of Chinese modernization, he said Beijing is willing to strengthen experience exchange with South Africa and help the country carry out the poverty reduction demonstration village project.
President Ramaphosa described China as a sincere brother, friend and partner of his country, saying that China has provided valuable support to South Africa in its struggle for national independence and liberation as well as its national development. He also mentioned China’s timely support for his country during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Since establishing diplomatic ties 25 years ago, South Africa has firmly adhered to the one-China principle, adding that both nations share the same or similar positions on many major international affairs.
Ramaphosa also said that in today’s world facing multiple severe and complex challenges, South Africa and other Global South countries hope to strengthen unity and cooperation with China to meet challenges better together and push for a more equal, just and rational international order.
In the joint statement, South Africa further welcomed the identification of South Africa amongst the top 20 countries for group tourism promotion by Chinese tourists. The African country supports the increased frequency of direct flights between South Africa and China. – Xinhua