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Deepening Sino-South African ties provide continent-wide benefits

By Rong Yansong (China Daily) Updated: 2016-09-05 08:42

The relationship between China and South Africa has never been stronger, and its strategic importance to both sides has been demonstrated by an unprecedented level of mutual political trust, increasingly close international coordination, fruitful pragmatic cooperation and wide-ranging cultural and people-to-people exchanges. Sino-South African trade and economic cooperation has led to a greater convergence of interests, which also reflects the comprehensive strategic partnership between the two countries.

Sino-South African trade and economic cooperation has gained significant momentum in recent years. Last year, bilateral trade reached $46 billion, and China has been South Africa's largest trading partner for seven consecutive years, as well as its biggest export market and principal source of imports. Meanwhile, South Africa has been China's largest trading partner in Africa for six consecutive years.

South Africa is the preferred destination in Africa for Chinese investors, and there are around 140 large-scale and medium-sized Chinese enterprises in the country with cumulative investments of $13 billion. Projects invested by Chinese companies such as the home appliances industrial parks and cargo vehicle factories have created more than 20,000 job opportunities. South Africa is, in turn, highly committed to engaging economically with China. Headquartered in Cape Town, Naspers Media Group has, as the largest shareholder of Tencent Group benefited immensely from the fast development of the Chinese technology company.

In addition, the human resource development cooperation between China and South Africa has been rapidly enhanced in recent times. China now provides hundreds of training opportunities annually to South Africans in a wide range of areas including the arts, technology and business and management.

Perhaps the most remarkable example of Sino-African cooperation came when Chinese President Xi Jinping paid a State visit to South Africa in December 2015 and co-chaired with President Jacob Zuma the Johannesburg Summit of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC). The event marked a historic moment in Sino-South African relations and even Sino-African relations. The "Ten Cooperation Plans", which aim to foster closer links between China and Africa, cover the areas of industrialization, agricultural modernization, infrastructure, financial services, green development, trade and investment facilitation, poverty reduction and public welfare, public health, people-to-people exchanges, and peace and security. The package, which was declared at the summit, clearly demonstrates the depth of the new cooperative relationship between China and Africa as a whole, and it will undoubtedly take trade and economic partnerships to new heights.

Following the summit, all parties have worked hard to ensure that the lofty aims of the plans are met, as well as to fully implement the "China-South Africa Five-to-Ten-Year Strategic Programme for Cooperation".

South Africa has one of the strongest economies in Africa, and this means the country is the perfect gateway to the continent for Chinese companies and investors looking for trade and cooperation opportunities. The Chinese economy will, so long as it allowed to develop in a sustainable manner, help to facilitate sustainable and independent development in South Africa and beyond. Although the world economy still faces many uncertainties, both China and South Africa have come to a crucial stage of their economic transformation and structural adjustment. South Africa is working towards meeting the goals set out by its National Development Plan. To this end it is formulating a series of action plans on industrialization, building special economic zones and industrial parks, and placing greater emphasis on key areas such as energy, infrastructure construction and the ocean economy.

Meanwhile, China is comprehensively promoting supply-side structural reforms and industrial restructuring, as well as international capacity cooperation. The successful implementation of these strategies will better position the country to conduct win-win cooperation with African countries. China has also accumulated rich experience through its long process of reform and opening-up, which can provide a valuable frame of reference for South Africa and other African countries. Despite the current economic travails, the fundamental principle of win-win cooperation and common development between China and Africa will remain unchanged.

With the profound shift in the global economic landscape and the adjustment of the international economic order, China is enhancing coordination and cooperation with South Africa in important international mechanisms and major international issues. China, as the world's largest developing country, together with South Africa, the sole African country in the G20, will work to both protect the interests of developing countries and ensure the international governance system works in a fair and equitable manner. The two sides are also ready to work with the other G20 members to build an innovative, invigorated, interconnected and inclusive world economy.

The author is the economic and commercial counsellor of the Chinese Embassy to South Africa.

 

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