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Ambassador Chen bids a heartfelt farewell to South Africa
by Kirtan Bhana - TDS
Ambassador Chen Xiaodong and Madame Zhang Bin deliver a farewell toast as their tour of duty in South Africa concludes (photo: Embassy of China)

7 March 2024

After ‘a sweet almost three and a half years of living and working in this beautiful country,’ Ambassador Chen Xiaodong of the PRC comes to the end of his tour of duty in South Africa.

”I became the sixth Ambassador of the People’s Republic of China to the Republic of South Africa on September 23rd, 2020. It has been a sweet almost three and a half years of living and working in this beautiful country. The past over 1230 days and nights made me fall in love with the Rainbow Nation, which is full of charm and vitality.

"I am amazed by the superb natural endowments here. South Africa has the most pleasant climate and breathtaking nature. You have the serene and romantic jacaranda blossoms here in Pretoria, the Big Five in the Kruger National Park, and the magnificent Drakensberg Mountain Range. You also have the “God’s Dining Table” in the magnificent Table Mountain, as well as an “edge of the world” in the Cape of Good Hope. I am mesmerized by every single one of these beautiful attractions.

"I am also fascinated by the rich and diverse cultures here. Thousands of years ago, human ancestors flourished in the Cradle of Humankind here. Today, people of different nationalities and skin colors live here in harmony, in a country that has 12 official languages. I had the honor of enjoying the charm of traditional Zulu dance performances and the Venda drums from Limpopo, and I celebrated the Chinese New Year with South African friends many times.

"I also fell in love with South Africa’s cuisines, such as your remarkable wines, refreshing rooibos tea, and the very special and “lekker” Braai. I was deeply touched by the friendly, kind, and sincere South African people. I made many South African friends and I always feel the warmth and friendship straight from their hearts,” said Ambassador Chen.

There is a deep and profound understanding between the two regions of the world that emanate from millennia old civilizations who have made tremendous contributions to humanity, and are now constructing a vital partnership that is leading the world into a new, vibrant and conciliatory realm.

“What I am most proud of is how the China-South Africa political relationship has reached new heights. President Xi Jinping and President Ramaphosa maintained close communication and gave strong guidance to the development of our relations,” said Ambassador Chen referring to the robust connections between China and South Africa after 25 years of diplomatic relations and the establishment of a comprehensive strategic partnership as the nations enter a golden era of a shared future.

The invited guests reflected on the incredible relationship between China and South Africa that is dynamic and diverse on a myriad levels of cooperation, and is lined with determined interactions and engagements in numerous socio-economic and geo-political spheres.

The emotional farewell and the moving remarks of gratitude by speakers acknowledged the fruitful, committed and constructive contributions that Ambassador Chen made in connecting people. The mutual learning, the respect for each other and an acceptance of the differences has entrenched a cooperation and bond that has become timeless.

Ambassador Chen is confident that this relationship has endured and will grow as a new narrative of the history of China and Africa emerges. - TDS

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