Chinese President Xi Jinping and South African President Cyril Ramaphosa hold talks in Pretoria, South Africa, Aug. 22, 2023. (Xinhua/Yin Bogu)
Chinese President Xi Jinping on Tuesday called on China and South Africa to strengthen their partnerships in four dimensions during his state visit to the African nation.
Xi made the remarks during his meeting with his South African counterpart, Cyril Ramaphosa, here in the country's administrative capital.
Ahead of his arrival, Xi said in his signed article published in South African media that the blossoming China-South Africa relationship "has entered a 'golden era,' enjoying broad prospects and a promising future."
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.
The two sides should strengthen exchanges and cooperation between their legislatures, political parties, militaries and localities, and continue to support each other on issues concerning each other's core interests and major concerns, said Xi.
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, he added.
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 percent of China-Africa trade. And in the first half of the year, bilateral trade topped 28.25 billion dollars, up 11.7 percent 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 and South African companies are also racing to invest in the Chinese market to seize its abundant business opportunities.
Notably, South Africa was the first African country to join the Belt and Road cooperation. The pie of bilateral cooperation is getting bigger as South Africa's wines, rooibos tea, and aloe vera gels are trending in the Chinese market while automobiles and home appliances with Chinese brands gain increasing popularity among South African households.
And in a joint statement between the two countries issued on Tuesday after the meeting of the two presidents, both sides 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.
Xi also elaborated on the necessity for the two countries to be friendly partners of deep mutual understanding and goodwill, saying that closer people-to-people bonds can best testify to the friendship between the two countries.
China is ready to make good use of such mechanisms as the China-South Africa vocational education alliance to strengthen vocational education of the two countries, promote exchanges and cooperation in youth employment, and help South Africa train more talents urgently needed for economic and social development, he said.
The two sides should strengthen tourism cooperation, and support scientific research institutions and enterprises to step up technological cooperation and joint research, so as to bring more benefits to the two peoples, Xi added.
South Africa in the joint statement further welcomed the identification of South Africa amongst the top 20 countries for group tourism promotion by Chinese tourists. The African country supports the increase in the frequency of direct flights between South Africa and China.
The fourth partnership the Chinese leader called on the two sides to enhance concerns global peace and stability.
This year's BRICS summit comes at a time when the world is facing rising uncertainties and accelerating changes unseen in a century.
Xi urged China and South Africa to be global partners that uphold justice, saying that independence is a principle both sides adhere to.
The Chinese side, Xi said, supports South Africa in playing a bigger role in international and regional affairs, and stands ready to work with South Africa and other developing countries to implement the Global Development Initiative, the Global Security Initiative, and the Global Civilization Initiative.
He also said that Beijing is also ready to join the developing world in practicing true multilateralism, increasing the representation and voice of the Global South countries in global governance, and strengthening collaboration on issues such as climate change, food security and the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, so as to safeguard the common interests and development space of developing countries, Xi added.
China and Africa, in the eyes of Xi, have always belonged to a community with a shared future. He told Ramaphosa that in a world which is undergoing transformation and turbulence, both sides need more than ever stronger solidarity and cooperation.
And in their joint statement, the two sides reiterated their resolve to further strengthen cooperation in terms of African affairs and to support the African Union in resolving African conflicts peacefully.
China expressed in the document its support for the efforts of African countries and regional organizations under the auspices of the African Union (AU) to provide African solutions to African problems, including to support the AU's early accession to membership of the Group of 20.
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 pandemic.
Since the establishment of diplomatic ties 25 years ago, South Africa has firmly adhered to the one-China principle, he said, adding that both nations share the same or similar positions on many major international affairs.
Ramaphosa also said that in today's world that is facing multiple severe and complex challenges, South Africa and other Global South countries hope to strengthen unity and cooperation with China, so as to better meet challenges together, and push for a more equal, just and rational international order.
In South Africa, Xi will also attend the BRICS summit scheduled from Tuesday to Thursday, and co-chair with Ramaphosa the China-Africa Leaders' Dialogue on the sidelines of the summit.