Opening Remarks by Deputy President David Mabuza as Co-Chair of the Plenary Session of the 7th South Africa-China Bi-National Commission, Beijing
Honourable Vice President Wang Qishan,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
We continue to value the Comprehensive Strategic Partnership between South Africa and China aimed at strengthening the mutually beneficial relations between our two countries.
Our strong bonds of friendship and solidarity were recently highlighted by the reciprocal state visits, in 2018, of our respective Presidents to our two countries.
This 7th Bi-National Commission builds on these state visits and on this particular day, we take this opportunity to congratulate China, on your 70th commemoration marking the founding of the People’s Republic of China.
Your Excellency, in the context of the Comprehensive Strategic Partnership existing between our countries, allow me to highlight several accomplishments since the last Bi-National Commission was convened.
The exchange of the state visits in 2018 resulted in a blueprint for the bilateral economic and trade relationship.
South Africa participated in the first China International Import Expo (CIIE) and China has supported South Africa’s first Investment Conference in 2018.
We are looking forward to China’s support in the 2019 Investment Conference scheduled to take in November this year.
In Science and Technology, our two countries have established Joint Research Centres, Joint Laboratories, Joint Research Programmes, Flagship projects and joint policy dialogues and information exchanges.
In the field of education, following the signing of an Action Plan on Human Resource Development in December 2015, over 2,000 South African officials and technicians have been trained under this Plan.
We also recognise the work of the six Confucius institutes and three Confucius classrooms in South Africa.
Also, South Africa officially recognised, in 2015, the Chinese language in our national education system.
South Africa and China have their own advantages in the field of energy and this bodes well for strong cooperation in the fields of oil, coal and renewable energy development.
On the subject of the Oceans Economy, an agreement was signed in 2015 entitled Strengthening Cooperation in Oceans Economy with the aim of exploring various areas of cooperation in this area.
We should build on the beef exports to China to further expand market access for South African agricultural products.
In terms of minerals beneficiation, the South Africa-China Joint Research Centre on the Development of Mineral Resources was launched in September 2018.
The new technologies that are being researched by the Centre will maximise the beneficiation of mineral resources while reducing environmental damage.
An agreement on Mutual Recognition of Higher Education Certificates, Diplomas and Degrees was signed, in July 2018, during the 10th BRICS Summit in South Africa.
In terms of higher education, there is an ongoing cooperation between various institutions of higher learning in both countries, such as Stellenbosch University and Hunan University, the University of Pretoria and Northeast China Normal University.
These universities are partnering under the framework of the China-African 20+20 Universities Cooperation Project.
South Africa appreciates the contribution by the Chinese government towards the refurbishment of Tshwane North and Tshwane South Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) Colleges.
With regards to the Square Kilometre Array (SKA), there is ongoing cooperation between South African and China, including between the South African Radio Astronomy Observatory and China Electronics Technology Group Corporation.
The agreement on the Simplification of Visa Requirements for Certain Categories of Citizens was signed, in July 2018, between South Africa and China to increase tourism and business numbers.
This agreement is currently being implemented and supplemented by recent moves by South Africa toward an e-VISA regime for foreign tourists, over the next months.
In terms of State-Owned Enterprises (SOEs), a total of 65 Chinese companies are investing in South Africa with a capital expenditure of R116-billion between January 2003 and March.
In April 2017, the South Africa-China High Level People-to-People Exchange Mechanism (PPEM) was launched to facilitate the expansion of skills transfers between our two countries and intensify cultural exchanges amongst academics and students.
On the multilateral front, South Africa and China have intensified their consultations on a number of international issues, as we both share a vision of consolidating multilateralism, global peace and prosperity.
In keeping with these achievements listed above, I acknowledge the valuable role that China has played in the uplifting of the African Continent through the Forum for China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC).
Through this Forum, Africa stands to benefit in terms of increased infrastructure investment, ICT connectivity, and trade.
Both of our countries have unique strengths and areas of influence in respect of the promotion of peace and security in our respective regions.
South Africa believes that peace remains the core element for development, while growth and development are integral towards sustaining peace and stability.
In conclusion, Your Excellency, allow me once again thank you for welcoming us to Beijing.
I look forward to the Sectoral Committee presentations, particularly as this is not only an engagement between committed strategic partners, but also between friends.
I thank you.