Chinese Consul General Tang Zhongdong.

By Tshawe lama Tshawe

China – the world’s second biggest and fastest-growing economy – was ready to share modernisation experience with South Africa, eager to support the country’s search for a modernisation path, which met its own national conditions, according to Chinese Consul General Tang Zhongdong.

China planned to strengthen trade relations with SA – importing an additional $100 billion worth of local goods.

Speaking at an exhibition in Johannesburg on Friday – marking 25 years of diplomatic relations between South Africa and China – Zhongdong was confident about the countries forging “stronger synergy between the Belt and Road Initiative and the South African Economic Reconstruction and Recovery Plan”.

Describing South Africa as “one of the largest investment destinations for Chinese enterprises in Africa”, Zhongdong said

In 1998, the People’s Republic of China and the Republic of South Africa, formally established diplomatic relations, with China-SA trade volume having grown up to $56.7 billion – 40 times more than $1.56 billion 25 years ago.

China, said Zhongdong, has been South Africa’s largest trading partner since 2009, with SA having been China’s largest trading partner in Africa since 2010 “with massive surplus”.

Said Zhongdong: “In the past 25 years, China-South Africa relations have made a significant leap to a comprehensive strategic partnership.

“Chinese presidents have paid five state visits to South Africa, while South African presidents, have paid six state visits to China.

“In recent years, under the joint guidance of President Xi Jinping and President Cyril Ramaphosa, political mutual trust between the two countries has continued to deepen, with cooperation in various fields becoming increasingly close – bringing tangible benefits to the peoples of both countries.”

He announced that China would import $100 billion worth of goods from South Africa – “one of the largest investment destinations for Chinese enterprises in Africa”.

By end of 2021, the total Chinese investment in South Africa, exceeded $25 billion.

Added Zhongdong: “There are more than 200 Chinese companies operating here.

“Last year, the job fair in Johannesburg, organised by the Chinese embassy, attracted thousands of South African graduates and hundreds of Chinese companies, with a pledge to employ 20 000 local people in three years.

“This year the bilateral relationship stands at a new historical starting point. “As part of the 25th anniversary of bilateral relations, two foreign ministers of both countries exchanged letters of congratulations in the beginning of the year – to reaffirm the well-established relations.

“The two governments have planned several activities that will take place throughout the year in both countries to celebrate this milestone.

“China is willing to strengthen dialogue and cooperation with South Africa, join hands in exploring modernisation paths that suit respective national conditions – striding forward on the path of building a high-level China-South Africa community with a shared future in the new era.”

Reflecting on the upcoming August 15th BRICS summit (the grouping of the world’s leading emerging market economies – Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa), to take place in South Africa, Zhongdong the world would “once again listen to the BRICS proposal”.

“In the face of the complex international situation and global challenges, South Africa has adopted ‘BRICS and Africa: A Partnership for Accelerated Growth, Sustainable Development and Inclusive Multilateralism’, as the theme of this summit.

“This reflects the common desire of BRICS and African countries to promote peaceful development in the world.

“More and more countries, such as Iran, Indonesia and Argentina, want to join the BRICS mechanism – believing that joining BRICS is a positive choice when facing tough challenges.

“The Summit will definitely write a new chapter for BRICS cooperation.

“China fully supports the work of the South African chairmanship – jointly promoting the BRICS mechanism with more tangible achievements – consistently injecting a strong momentum for solidarity and cooperation among developing countries.

“Let’s share the experience from Chinese achievement in the decade and work together in looking for the modernisation of our countries.

“Let’s applaud for the great development of the relations between China and South Africa for 25 years,” said Zhongdong.

On the Communist Party of China’s 20th national congress held last year, said Zhongdong: “The congress took place at a critical time as the entire party and the Chinese people of all ethnic groups, are embarking on a new journey advance toward the second centenary goal of building China into a great modern socialist country in all respects – advancing the rejuvenation of the Chinese nation on all fronts.

“Throughout the past decade, President Xi Jinping’s Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era, was established by CPC – putting forward a series of new ideas, new thinking, new strategies on national governance and achieved a new breakthrough in adapting Marxism to the Chinese context and the needs of times.”