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Celebrating 15 years of South Africa - China diplomatic relations

Address by Ambassador TIAN Xuejun at the Reception
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Celebrating the 15th Anniversary of Diplomatic Relationship between
The People’s Republic of China and the Republic of South Africa
Pretoria, 31 Jan 2013

Tonight we gather here for the grand celebration of the 15th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relationship between the People’s Republic of China and the Republic of South Africa.

First of all, I wish to extend my greatest gratitude to Minister Mashabane for attending this reception out of your busy schedule.

On behalf of the Embassy of China in Pretoria, I wish to welcome Your Honorable Ministers and all the friends present tonight. Thank you everyone for what you have contributed to China-SA friendship and cooperation over the years. Thank you for your generous support to the work of our Embassy!

Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi and Your Honorable Minister Mashabane exchanged messages of congratulation at the beginning of this year to celebrate the anniversary. Both Ministers spoke highly of the developments of bilateral relationship. I wish to share with you the congratulatory message from Minister Yang:

“On the occasion of the fifteenth anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relationship between the People’s Republic of China and the Republic of South Africa, I wish to extend my warm congratulations and best wishes.

In the past one and half decade, China-South Africa relationship has been making new strides and experiencing comprehensive and rapid growth. The two sides have enjoyed frequent high-level exchanges and enhanced political mutual trust. The practical cooperation in trade and economic areas has been expanded and cultural and people-to-people exchanges have become more dynamic. The coordination and consultation between our two countries in international affairs have been strengthened.

The international landscape is now experiencing complicated and profound changes. China and South Africa both are at a crucial stage of development. We are faced with rare historic opportunities and promising prospects in developing our bilateral relationship. Let’s take the fifteenth anniversary as an opportunity, enhance our friendship and cooperation and push for greater development of China-South Africa comprehensive strategic partnership.”

The progress of this bilateral relationship can not be possible without the generous support and joint efforts from various departments of the two countries, as well as the passionate engagement of people from all walks of life. I suggest we give another round of applause to everyone who has contributed to the development of China-South Africa relations.

In the past fifteen years, both China and South Africa have made great strides in national development. Our bilateral relationship has, at the same time, registered remarkable progress. Tonight, as we sit here, reviewing this significant bilateral relationship, I wish to borrow the 7 letters from the word “fifteen” to form 7 key words and share with you my observations on China-SA relations.

The first letter “F” stands for friendship, as it is the bonding tie linking China and South Africa together. Chinese has an old saying, “Distance cannot separate true friends, even when they are thousands of miles apart". Despite of the long geographical distance, the people of our two countries enjoy a profound traditional friendship, and such a relationship is the inexhaustible driving force behind the comprehensive, rapid and sound development of China-SA relationship. This is something that we must cherish.

The second letter “I” stands for independence, as it is the shared philosophy guiding the diplomatic practice of both our countries. By pursuing an independent foreign policy, China and South Africa have been able to advocate democracy, equality and the spirit of consultation in major international and regional issues. Non-interference into other’s internal affairs is the basic principle of the foreign policy of our two countries; it is also the foundation supporting the development of our bilateral relationship.

The third letter “F” stands for future, as it is what China-South Africa relationship is oriented to. The leaderships of our two countries have adopted a strategic and long-term vision and have been reviewing this bilateral relationship with a global perspective, blazing a new trial of China-SA relationship, featuring mutual respect, equality, mutual trust, win-win cooperation and common development.

The fourth letter “T” stands for “Triple-jump”, as it is how we describe the leaps and bounds in the development of our bilateral relations, from partnership in 2000, to strategic partnership in 2004 and to comprehensive strategic partnership in 2010. China-South Africa relationship is now standing as the model of the relationship between China and other developing countries.

The fifth letter “E” stands for economic tie, as it is the highlight of China-SA relations. According to statistics from China Customs, trade volume between our two countries reached US$59.94 billion in 2012, almost 40 times of the number of 1997. China has been SA’s largest trading country for many years and SA is China’s largest trading partner in Africa.

The sixth letter “E” stands for exchanges between the people, as it’s often said in China “amity between the people holds the key to state-to-state relations”, such exchanges is the solid foundation of our relationship. The past one-and-half decade has witnessed closer people-to-people exchanges and deeper-rooted friendship. Now, across the African continent, South Africa has the largest number of Chinese sister cities and Confucius Institutes, and receives the largest number of Chinese tourists and overseas students. The people of China and South Africa are good friends, good brothers and good partners.

The last letter “N” stands for a new chapter. The age of fifteen is very crucial as it is where a young man turns into a grown-up. The fifteen-year-old China-SA relationship is now entering a new stage of maturity. The success of the 18th National Congress of the CPC and the 53rd National Conference of the ANC has opened a new chapter of national development of our two countries. South Africa has now become the African Chair of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation and the fifth BRICS Summit will soon be held in Durban. These are all fresh yet important opportunities of the development of our bilateral relations.

I wish to work hand in hand with all friends across South Africa, to take this anniversary as an opportunity, make full use of the favorable conditions to lift China-South Africa relationship to a new high.

Thank you!

Embassy of P.R. China in Pretoria




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