CGTN:How China, S Africa usher in ‘golden era’ for bilateral ties


BEIJING, Aug. 23, 2023 /PRNewswire/ — With a brotherly and comradely friendship, China and South Africa – the world’s two major developing countries – are set to see their bilateral relations taking a step further with more fruitful cooperation in a “golden era” as the leaders of both countries met in Pretoria on Tuesday.

During his meeting with South African President Cyril Ramaphosa, Xi recalled the fruits of bilateral cooperation in the past decade, including the building of Chinese carmaker BAIC Group’s South Africa plant and the establishment of the Confucius Institute at Durban University of Technology in 2013, saying that he is pleased to see the progress South Africa has achieved in national development.

In 2018, Xi and Ramaphosa unveiled the first-ever BAIC vehicle assembled on African soil via video link. In celebration of South Africa hosting the 15th BRICS Summit, the BAIC Group South Africa plant is set to realize the localized production of BAIC’s own brands in 2023.

Noting he has witnessed the vigorous growth of China-South Africa relations, Xi, on his fourth state visit to South Africa, said that he hopes both countries will continue their friendship and deepen cooperation.

The last three state visits made by Xi to South Africa were in 2013, 2015 and 2018.

Lifting ties

This year marks the 25th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and South Africa. In the past 25 years, the bilateral relationship has been promoted from being a partnership to a strategic partnership, and then to a comprehensive strategic partnership.

In the article titled “Sailing the Giant Ship of China-South Africa Friendship and Cooperation Toward Greater Success”, Xi said the relationship between China and Africa is one of the most vibrant in the developing world, adding that it has entered a “golden era” with a promising future.

With South Africa officially becoming the only African member in 2011, BRIC was enlarged to BRICS. In 2015, South Africa became the first African country to sign a Belt and Road Initiative cooperation document.

Now at a new historical point, Xi said he is willing to work with his South African counterpart to push the China-South Africa comprehensive strategic partnership to a new level.

Deepening cooperation

Noting bilateral relations are at a new starting point, Xi said deepening cooperation and strengthening coordination is the common aspiration of the two countries and the task entrusted by the times.

In the first half of 2023, bilateral trade between China and South Africa reached $28.25 billion, up 11.7 percent year-on-year, said Shu Jueting, a spokesperson of the Ministry of Commerce, adding that China has maintained its position as South Africa’s largest trading partner for 14 consecutive years, while South Africa has been China’s largest trading partner in Africa for 13 consecutive years.

With an investment stock of more than $10 billion, China is one of the major sources of investment in South Africa, said the spokesperson.

Specifically speaking, the two sides have together constructed and commissioned over 10,000 km of railway, nearly 100,000 km of highway, and an array of important infrastructure projects, including airports, docks, bridges and power plants, according to China’s Ministry of Commerce.

Besides, the two major developing countries have in recent years also collaborated on a variety of projects in relation to the digital economy, high-end technology and clean energy.

Carrying forward friendship

Aside from the booming bilateral trade, the two countries also boast fruitful cooperation in education, culture and other fields, letting people of both countries know each other better.

Besides holding three meetings of the South Africa-China High-level People-To-People Exchange Mechanism, China and South Africa are also jointly building the Luban Workshop – a Chinese vocational workshop program training talents overseas – to promote vocational education exchanges and cooperation between both countries, said Chen Xiaodong, the Chinese ambassador to South Africa.

Siyabonga Cyprian Cwele, South African Ambassador to China, noted that the South African people love Chinese films and TV shows, as well as Chinese kung fu and Chinese history.

In the past decade, more and more students from South Africa and China have studied in each other’s countries.

Acknowledging that South Africa integrated teaching Chinese language into its national education system in 2015, Cwele said many South African tour guides are also learning Chinese.

At present, more than 10 universities in China have established partnerships with universities in South Africa, including the partnership between Northeast Normal University in northeast China’s Jilin City and the University of Pretoria in South Africa in 2012.

Hailing the deep friendship of “comrades and brothers” between China and Africa, Xi said carrying forward friendship at the new historical starting point is the task trusted by the times.

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