Cape Town – Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa says cooperation between South Africa and China is leading to new development opportunities for the African continent.
The Deputy President said this ahead of hosting Chinese Vice President LI Yuanchao for the 6th Session of the South Africa-China Bi-National Commission (BNC) at Tuynhuys in Cape Town on Tuesday.
He said cooperation between the two countries has improved tremendously since the previous session of the BNC and numerous agreements have been arrived at and signed.
“…One of the highlights of our cooperation was when President [Jacob] Zuma visited China and in 2014 was able to meet with President Xi Jinping and sign a five to 10-year strategic programme of cooperation… This in many ways set in place a practical framework with clearly defined actions and targets of how our relationship with China and South Africa can develop over the next 10 years,” said the Deputy President.
He said the historic Sstate visit of President Xi Jinping to South Africa last year elevated relations further and agreements worth more than R94 billion were signed, “making President Xi Ping’s visit to South Africa the most successful State visit that we have had in our country”.
“The subsequent FOCAC Summit in Johannesburg assured us of China’s commitment not only to South Africa but to the entire African continent.
“The outcomes of these two events are changing the lives of our people not only in South Africa but also on the African continent and are offering new opportunities for growth and development at a number of levels, but more especially at an economic level,” he said.
The Deputy President said the 6th session of the BNC would review progress made since the last BNC held in 2013 in Beijing and receive reports from the sectoral committees on foreign affairs; trade and investment; energy; mineral resources; science and technology and education.
The BNC session was also expected to endorse the creation of two additional working groups on the oceans economy and agriculture.
It was also expected that during the session, more bilateral agreements in the areas of special economic zones, industrial parks and production capacity co-operation will be signed.
Bilateral trade between the two countries grew from R118 billion to R293 billion by the end of 2015, making China South Africa’s biggest trading partner.
“During this BNC we are also going to witness the signing of more agreements between our two countries, particularly in the areas of special economic zones and industrial parks and production capacity cooperation.
“These are very important areas that are going to lead to a further development of our own economy.
“To us that confirms that relations between us and China are very special.
“This has given practical meaning through mechanisms like this BNC which has become a key vehicle in facilitating cooperation in a very formal way between our two countries. I am confident that at the conclusion of this sixth session of the BNC, we will have excellent outcomes that will guide our cooperation as we move forward in terms of further deepening relations between the two countries,” he said.
Vice President LI Yuanchao said the deepening of relations between China and South Africa will bring about concrete benefits to the two countries.
“Since the establishment of the mechanisms of the BNC, it has always played a critical role for the two countries to coordinate their cooperation in important areas.
“The meeting will go through the achievement of our cooperation over the past few years and explore the way forward for our cooperation over the next few years,” he said.