China to sign agreements worth billions of dollars

China is  committed to intensifying its economic relations with South Africa. “I brought an investment mission with me that will sign agreements worth billions of dollars,” Chinese President Xi Jinping said in his remarks following official talks with President Zuma today, 26 March.

 The Chinese President said  the country had made rapid developments. “I believe that people of the world will see a major developing country that is full of vigour and vitality,” said Xi at the welcoming luncheon held following formal proceedings during his State Visit.

 President Xi recently took over from President Hu Jintao following the announcement on 14 March. He was appointed to the Communist Party’s top post in November of the previous year.

 “It is a great pleasure to visit. [We] have a profound traditional friendship,” said Xi, who brought a business delegation with him on his visit that coincides with South Africa’s hosting of the fifth Brics Summit, which kicked off today in Durban.

 The signing of several agreements in various fields will serve to strengthen the already cordial ties between South Africa and China, President Jacob Zuma said, adding that China had received much success in a short time and it was incumbent for South Africa to learn from China.

 The poverty, unemployment and inequity that South Africans and the South in general continued to face, was precisely what brought the two countries together, said Zuma. “We view China’s success as a source of hope and inspiration as we engage with the task of finding our own solutions for bringing about a better future. The rise of China, therefore, has lessons for us all as we seek to emulate your example,” said the President.

 China is South Africa’s biggest trading partner and a significant investor in the South African economy, with exports from South Africa to China in 2012 totalling R89 billion. Imports from China to South Africa totalled R112 billion. Total trade stood at R201 billion.

 At today’s ceremony at the Sefako Makgatho Presidential Guest House, various agreements, involving state entities such as Transnet and government departments,including the Department of International Relations and Cooperation, were signed.

 The South African Revenue Service (SARS) signed a declaration of intent in the area around capacity building with China, among others.  The two countries also signed the terms of reference of the Joint Inter-Ministerial Working Group on South Africa-China Cooperation.

 The group said the President would monitor the implementation of cooperative projects so that both countries would be able to join hands in meaningful ways moving towards the future.

 South Africa and China have enjoyed 15 years of formal diplomatic relations, with this milestone set to be observed in both countries starting next year.

 It has been proposed that next year be heralded as the ‘Year of South Africa in China’ and that 2015 be declared the ‘Year of China in South Africa’.

 “To underscore this cooperation is the signing of the China-South Africa People’s Friendship Association. This is one of the building blocks that will further enhance cooperation between our peoples.

“We acknowledge and appreciate China’s engagement with South Africa in the fields of Science and Technology, Agriculture, Health as well as capacity building and skills transfer in Human Resources and Education,” said Zuma.

 He also expressed gratitude for the scholarships provided by the Chinese government to South African students, with another 200 scholarships having been added to the programme.


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