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China’s partnership with SA is yielding fruitful results

President Cyril Ramaphosa and Chinese President Xi Jinping. Picture: Oupa Mokoena/African News Agency (ANA)

President Cyril Ramaphosa and Chinese President Xi Jinping. Picture: Oupa Mokoena/African News Agency (ANA)

Published Oct 22, 2020

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This is part 2 of a 3-part series interview by the African News Agency with His Excellency Chen Xiaodong, Ambassador-designate of China to South Africa.

Q: With the pandemic situation getting better, South Africa, China and many other countries in the world are resuming work and production to restore growth. As you assumed your new post as the Chinese Ambassador to South Africa at such a critical juncture, what are your expectations for the practical co-operation between South Africa and China in the post-Covid-19 era? Are there any potential areas or new highlights in our co-operation?

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A: It is a great honour to serve as the sixth Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the People’s Republic of China to the Republic of South Africa. As Assistant Foreign Minister covering Africa, I made many trips to South Africa and other African countries. I saw for myself the fast and all-round progress of China-South Africa and China-Africa relations.

In recent years, under the guidance of President Xi Jinping and President Cyril Ramaphosa, the China-South Africa comprehensive strategic partnership has been growing soundly and smoothly, and our trade and economic co-operation has yielded fruitful outcomes.

China has been South Africa’s largest trading partner for 11 years in a row, and South Africa has been China’s largest trading partner in Africa for 10 consecutive years.

Read part 1 of the 3-part series here

In 2019, the two-way trade between China and South Africa exceeded $42billion, accounting for one-fifth of the total trade volume between China and Africa. There are more than 200 Chinese enterprises in South Africa, with a total investment and financing of more than $25bn, creating 400000 jobs for local people.

Despite the impact of the Covid-19, the China-South Africa practical co-operation and bilateral trade have maintained strong momentum and great resilience. According to data released by the South African Customs, from January to July this year China-South Africa bilateral trade accounted for 15.48% of South Africa’s total foreign trade volume, registering a year-on-year increase of 0.83%.

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We are glad to see that under the leadership of President Ramaphosa and the ANC government, the pandemic situation in South Africa is getting better and the economic and social activities are getting back on track.

President Ramaphosa recently unveiled the economic reconstruction and recovery plan, drawing a blueprint for South Africa’s economic restoration and growth.

China will enter the “14th Five-Year Plan” period starting from 2021. This will be the first five-year period after China completes the building of a moderately prosperous society in all respects and achieves its first centenary goal.

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China will build on this momentum to embark on a new journey toward building a socialist modern country in an all-round way and achieving the second centenary goal.

As the first major economy to restore growth since the outbreak, China has tapped into its huge market and the big potential of domestic demand. We are now fostering a new economic dynamic with free flowing domestic circulation as the mainstay and mutually reinforced by international circulation.

China remains committed to opening wider to the outside world, sharing its best practices with South Africa and other African countries, and driving the economic recovery and growth of South Africa, Africa and all countries around the world through its own development. Going forward, in light of our own development strategies and plans, as well as the key areas and projects identified in South Africa’s economic reconstruction and recovery plan, China will join hands with South Africa to explore new ways and areas for co-operation.

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We shall give full play to our complementary advantages and deepen our practical co-operation in such fields as investment, trade and infrastructure construction. We will create new highlights of China-South Africa co-operation in emerging areas such as digital economy and renewable energy so as to support South Africa’s economic restoration.

First, we shall promote trade and investment co-operation. China supports South Africa in expanding its export of high-quality agricultural products to China which has the world’s largest and full-fledged e-commerce market and world-renowned e-commerce giants such as Alibaba and JD.com. Going forward, our two countries could strengthen co-operation in the field of cross-border e-commerce and promote the export of more South African speciality and high-quality agricultural products to China.

We welcome South Africa’s participation in the 3rd China International Import Expo. China is also willing to encourage more capable Chinese companies to participate in the 3rd South Africa Investment Conference and support the South African government in expanding investment and creating jobs with concrete actions.

Second, we shall promote our co-operation in infrastructure construction. In light of the key areas identified in South Africa’s economic reconstruction and recovery plan and the key projects in the “New Infrastructure Plan”, China will encourage the Chinese companies with capital resources and technological edge to participate in South Africa’s infrastructure construction, so as to help South Africa upgrade its infrastructure sector, grow its economy, create more jobs, and improve its people’s livelihood.

Third, we shall create new highlights in our scientific and technological innovation co-operation. China is willing to strengthen co-operation with South Africa in the fields of digital economy, 5G, big data, artificial intelligence, and e-commerce to help South Africa seize the opportunities brought by the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

We will encourage Huawei to strengthen technological exchanges and R&D co-operation with South African companies so as to deliver more tangible benefits to our two peoples. China is willing to work with SA to advance the China-South Africa Science Park Programme as soon as possible and jointly promote the construction of cross-border incubators.

China will encourage companies to invest and participate in the construction of new energy projects in South Africa to strengthen our co-operation in the field of renewable energy.

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