S African president: Ties with China to reach new heights

Updated: 2010-08-24 18:17
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Address by President Zuma to the South Africa-China Business Forum on the Occasion of the State Visit to the People's Republic of China

August 24, 2010

Honourable Ministers, Chairpersons of the South Africa-China Business Forum,

Excellencies Ambassadors of South Africa and China,

President of Business Unity South Africa,

Distinguished Captains of Industry and Commerce,

Ladies and gentlemen,

We are delighted to be visiting our friends in the People's Republic of China for a crucial State Visit.

We look forward to fruitful discussions with His Excellency President Hu Jintao, and his delegation, when we begin our official bilateral programme later this afternoon. The talks will surely take the relations between the two countries to greater heights. I would like to thank the government and people of China for the warm reception accorded to my delegation and I, since our arrival.

This is the kind of hospitality and comradeship we have become accustomed to, each time we visit this country, which is a historical friend of the South African people.

When friends were fewer, during the struggle against apartheid, China was available to assist, and we are grateful for that solidarity.

Ladies and gentlemen,

Some of you may be surprised to hear that trade relations between China and Africa in general and South Africa in particular, dates back more than a thousand years.

We know from historical records that the kingdom of Mapungubwe in Limpopo province, in the northern part of South Africa already had commercial links with China that far back.

We should also recall that the famous Chinese mariner, explorer, diplomat and fleet admiral, Zheng was sent by the Ming Emperor, Yongle, on expeditions to explore the "Western Oceans" in the early fifteenth century. He opened up trade routes as far south as Mozambique.

At that time China was the largest economy in the world, a position it held until the early 19th Century. It was also during this period that Africa and China forged strong economic ties.

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Historians record that these ancient relations were based on mutual respect and understanding, territorial integrity, similar values, solidarity and friendship.

However, colonialism interrupted these mutually beneficial relations.

The rise of China indicates that the world is now returning to its historical economic powers and trade patterns!

Our visit is therefore a natural progression, building on relations that date back so many thousands of years ago between China and Africa.

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