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Elements of Remarks by H.E. Ambassador Lin Songtian at the Meeting with Media and Think Tanks

(From Chinese Embassy in South Africa)

2017/08/25

August 24, 2017

Friends from the media and think tanks, welcome to the Embassy! First of all, please allow me to briefly introduce myself. My name is Lin Songtian. I've been working on China-Africa relations for a long time, in fact, for the most part of my diplomatic career. I first set foot on Africa in 1999. Since 2003, I have served as the Ambassador first to Liberia, then to Malawi. Together, I have visited 30 countries across Africa. From June 2014, I have served as the Director-General for African Affairs in the Chinese Foreign Ministry and the Secretary-General of the Chinese Follow-up Committee of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC). I am fully committed to promoting China-Africa friendship, and I'm deeply honored and proud to be able to participate in and promote the great cause of China-Africa win-win cooperation for common development. I wish to use today's opportunity to share with you some of my thoughts on how China has transformed from poverty to prosperity. On the topic of cooperation, I plan to talk about China-South Africa and China-Africa relations, and BRICS cooperation, and basically, share with you what I come here for. Towards the end, I will also talk about the ways that the Embassy and the media and think tanks here in South Africa could work together, to make our bilateral relations more beneficial to our two peoples.

1. China's Development Miracle from the Reform and Opening Up Policy

The miracle of economic growth. From 1978 to 2016, the GDP and per capita GDP of the Chinese economy has increased significantly from $216.8 billion and $227 to $11 trillion and $8,000 respectively. Over 700 million Chinese population have been lifted out of poverty, which is a miracle for world economic growth. By 2020, China will eliminate poverty entirely out of its 1.4 billion population. This is the solemn commitment that the Chinese Communist Party and the Chinese government have made to the Chinese people. And the achievement of this goal will also be a major contribution to the mankind. In the first half of this year, the Chinese economy beat the expectation and grew by 6.9%. The IMF, for the third time in a row, raised its forecast for China's economic growth, to be 6.7% this year.

The miracle of economic transformation. After nearly four decades of reform and opening up and fast development, the Chinese economic growth has completed its transformation from previously being driven by investment to now driven by consumption and innovation. Before 2000, China's scientific research input was only 12% of that of the United States. In 2015, this number increased to 75%. By 2022, China's scientific research input will overtake the United States. In the first half of this year, the share of the service industry in the Chinese economy has increased to 54.1%. Final consumption contributed 63.4% to economic growth. High-tech and equipment manufacturing industry are growing fast. About 15,600 new businesses register every day, and new industries, new formats as well as new models keep emerging at a fast pace. In May 2017, a vote was conducted among young people from 20 countries along the Belt and Road Initiative to pick China's "new four great inventions", namely, high-speed rail, Alipay, bike-sharing and online shopping. Historically, the "four great inventions" from China has played a significant role in the advancement of human civilization. In the new era, these "new four great inventions" is China's latest contribution to the new world. These inventions are not just examples showcasing China's drive and vigor for innovation. More importantly, they have made people's life easier and better, and they have helped create tremendous business opportunities across the world.

The Indonesia Jakarta to Bandung high-speed rail, Russia Moscow to Kazan high-speed rail, Malaysia Kuala Lumpur to Singapore high-speed rail, as well as Addis Ababa-Djibouti Railway, Mombasa-Nairobi Standard Gauge Railway and a large number of projects have either been completed or made significant progress. The Alibaba Group's Alipay has grown its business to over 200 countries and regions, supporting mobile payments in 18 currencies. Tencent's WeChat payment has reached 13 countries and regions and 130,000 businesses outside China. Didi Chuxing (or Didi Taxi), a mobile car ride platform, is providing point-to-point car transfers for about 300 million users in over 400 cities in China, and is actively exploring foreign markets. Besides covering all cities across the China, Mobike, a bike-sharing company, has deployed over 60 million smart bikes in more than 150 cities in five countries outside China. The company has over 100 million registered users and counts over 25 million rides per day. The visit of the famous Chinese businessman Ma Yun to Africa has sparked huge interest in the business community here, and we can feel Africa's passion for business development.

The main engine for world economic growth. China has created great opportunities for world development. Today, China is the second largest economy, the largest manufacture and the largest trading power in the world. China has the biggest foreign exchange reserve and ranks the world number two for foreign investment. China is also the biggest contribution to global economic growth. In 2016, China's contribution to world economic growth was 33.2%. That is equivalent to the total contribution of the developed countries such as the United States, European countries and Japan combined. Despite of a downward global trade, China's annual trade volume still exceeded 3.68 trillion US dollars. That is about 14% of the global total. China's overseas non-financial investment registered over 170 billion US dollars, marking an increase of 44.1% from the previous year. Over the next five years, China will provide unparalleled driving force for world development in the areas of trade, investment and manufacturing. It is estimated that over the next 5 years, the Chinese import will reach over 8 trillion US dollars, the outflow of foreign direct investment will exceed 750 billion US dollars, and over 650 million person times of Chinese tourists will travel out of China.

A country of freedom and democracy. By June 2017, China has 751 million internet users. That is the same size as the total population of Europe. The average online surfing time is 26.5 hours per person per week. There are 1.36 billion mobile phone users. People can browse news, chat on their phones, watch videos, and leave comments online freely. China implements a nine-year compulsory education policy. In 2016, the students in regular and adult higher education institutions combined reached 36.99 million, and the gross enrollment rate was up to 42.7%. In 2016, the new urban employment is more than 13 million, registered unemployment rate is 4.02%, and the country has for many years maintained relatively adequate employment.

2. Leapfrog Achievements in China-Africa Mutually Beneficial Cooperation and China's Commitment to Africa's Independent Sustainable Development

New breakthroughs in China-Africa mutually beneficial cooperation. As Africa's largest trading partner and major source of investment, China is the most reliable partner as Africa pursues its independent sustainable development. According to incomplete statistics, since the FOCAC Johannesburg Summit in 2015, over 600 projects have been completed, or under construction, or have been signed to be implemented in Africa. These projects amount to over 108 billion US dollars, and could directly create 209,000 jobs and contribute 1.15 billion US dollars of tax revenue for African countries. The China-Africa Fund for Production Capacity Cooperation is up and running with an initial contribution of 10 billion US dollars. Together with the China-Africa Development Fund, they will provide financial investment and support for China-Africa mutually beneficial cooperation. Since the FOCAC Johannesburg Summit, China has provided training of professional skills to over 100,000 people and offered nearly 20,000 government scholarships for African countries. In the first half of 2017, despite the economic headwinds in the world, China-Africa trade volume soared to 85.3 billion US dollars with a growth rate of 19%. The Chinese non-financial direct investment in Africa also grew by 22%.

China's priorities to support Africa to breakthrough "Three Development Bottlenecks". The China-Africa Ten Cooperation Plans is highly consistent with the objectives and areas of development prioritized by the AU 2063 Agenda. China and Africa are both faced with a historic opportunity to synergize our respective development strategies. China is committed to supporting Africa's efforts to break through the three development bottlenecks, namely, inadequate infrastructure, lack of professional and skilled personnel, and short of financial resources. China is committed to supporting Africa to develop self-sustainable systems of industrialization, food security, as well as public health and disease prevention and control, aiming to help Africa resolve the three fundamental issues of jobs, food and health. China has identified Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania and the Republic of Congo as pilot countries for China-Africa production capacity cooperation. We hope that through the success of the real practice, friends in Africa will embrace a new mindset on development, and get stronger capacity for independent sustainable development. China has committed herself to working together with South Africa to make the latter stronger as the locomotive to lead African industrialization and modernization drive. Currently, with the support from China, remarkable progress is underway in the development of special economic zones and industrial parks in some African countries, which has attracted huge Chinese investors and created large employment opportunities. Railways financed and constructed by Chinese companies, including the Addis Ababa-Djibouti Railway, Mombasa–Nairobi Railway, the Benguela Railway in Angola, and the Abuja-Kaduna Rail in Nigeria have all entered into service. Up to now, China's financing support and infrastructure development in Africa have created possibility and favorable conditions for some African countries to facilitate their independent sustainable development.

A stronger commitment to wildlife protection. China will impose a comprehensive ban on ivory processing and trading for commercial purposes by the end of 2017. At present, China, the US, the UK, France and Interpol are consulting and planning to launch a joint law-enforcement operation to fight against illegal hunting of endangered wildlife and illegal trading of wild animal products in South Africa, Kenya, Namibia and Ethiopia.

3. The Demonstration and Leading Role of China-South Africa Cooperation on China-Africa Relations

Remarkable achievements in China-SA mutually beneficial cooperation. According to incomplete statistics, China has in accumulative terms, made over 15 billion US dollars of non-financial investment in South Africa. Those investments have produced large number of jobs, tax revenues, and foreign exchange, making unique contributions to South Africa's economic and social transformation and development. South Africa has already become China's biggest trading partner, and the most important investment and tourist destination in Africa. Among African countries, South Africa has the largest number of Chinese nationals, students and tourists. By the end of this month, South Africa will become the first African country to export beef to China.

The huge potential for China-SA mutually beneficial cooperation. South Africa has rich natural and human resources, and is famous for its social inclusiveness, well regulated market, and well established legal system. As the strongest economy in Africa, South Africa enjoys huge growth potential. I believe South Africa can benefit much more from this development. Last year, the number of Chinese outbound tourists reached 122 million, with a total spending of up to 109.8 billion US dollars. Yet, only 110,000 people visited South Africa in that year.

As the new ambassador to South Africa, it is my most important mission and core task to constantly deepen and enrich China-SA comprehensive strategic partnership, and to take concrete actions to support the efforts of the South African government to grow economy and improve people's livelihood, to make China-SA relations productive and more beneficial to our two peoples. Next year will mark the 20th anniversary of diplomatic ties between China and South Africa. We will work together and fully leverage our strengths of political mutual trust, economic complementarity, and the friendship between our two peoples. We will actively support the efforts of the South Africa government in economic and social transformation through economic growth, job creation, poverty reduction, so as to achieve universal and inclusive growth. Our goal is to constantly translate our development strengths and potential into concrete and fruitful results that our two peoples, particularly the grassroots population in South Africa, can feel and can actually enjoy. We stand ready to support the South African government to strengthen its capacity, in both infrastructures and capacity building. We will work together to make South Africa a more safe and secure, more prosperous, and more inclusive country. We will support South Africa to grow stronger to be a leading goose in Africa, and as a locomotive to lead Africa's industrialization. At the same time, we will support SA to play a greater and more important role in Africa's peace, development, and security issues, and work together to make China-SA relations a more powerful engine to drive China-Africa relations.

Ten priority areas for China-SA cooperation:

1) Infrastructure development. China is willing to strengthen mutually beneficial cooperation with South Africa in the planning, design, construction, operation and maintenance of infrastructure, and support Chinese companies to actively participate in infrastructure development in SA, including railway, highway, regional aviation, port, electricity and telecommunications facilities.

2) Human resources development. We will join efforts with SA to do more vocational and technical training based on the development needs of South Africa, offer more scholarship to SA students, and deepen our education and human resources development cooperation, so as to help South Africa cultivate more talents, both professional and skilled personnel, for national development.

3) Industry and production capacity. China is ready to strengthen the dovetailing of industries and industrial capacity cooperation with South Africa. We will encourage more Chinese investors to South China. We will support South Africa to build more industrial parks, special economic zones, and work together to build China-South Africa Science and Technology Park, locomotive industry park, energy metallurgy industry special zone, health industry park and cultural industry park. We hope that these efforts will help South Africa attract more foreign investment and create more jobs for the locals.

4) Agricultural modernization. We will encourage more Chinese investors to carry out large-scale cultivation, animal husbandry, grain storage and processing in South Africa, and we will provide a huge market for South Africa's agricultural exports.

5) Ocean economy. China supports South Africa to develop its ocean economy and is willing to actively promote mutually beneficial cooperation with South Africa in the development of ports, marine transport, shipbuilding, aquaculture, offshore oil and gas exploration, etc.

6) Tourism. We will encourage Chinese companies to make investment in the tourism industry, including tourist resources and facilities development, and encourage more Chinese people to travel to South Africa, to enjoy their sightseeing, and spend money in South Africa to create more jobs for the locals.

7) Finance. China will work with South Africa to make full use of the China-SA currency swap arrangement and the RMB settlement mechanism. Efforts will be made to innovate and expand our bilateral financial cooperation, and to boost our resilience against external financial risks. We will encourage and support financial institutions of our two countries to deepen cooperation and fully leverage the New Development Bank and its Africa Regional Center, Asia Infrastructure Investment Bank and the Silk Road Fund, so as to provide more capital resources and help facilitate our mutually beneficial cooperation.

8) Security. Peace and security is the fundamental precondition for national development and investment cooperation. We stand ready to support South Africa to enhance the capacity of law enforcement authorities, build smart cities and develop a safe South Africa.

9) People-to-people exchange. On the basis of the high-level people-to-people exchange mechanism, China and South Africa can carry out more diverse activities in a wide range of areas including tourism, culture, artistic, sports, media, think tanks, etc. Through those efforts, we can increase mutual understanding and friendship of our two peoples, so as to strengthen mutual trust, and consolidate the popular support for China-South Africa friendship.

10) International cooperation. China will continue to strengthen close communication, coordination and cooperation with South Africa in the AU, BRICS, G20, UN and other regional and international multilateral mechanisms to uphold the common interest of our two countries and the rest of the developing countries.

4. BRICS Cooperation: Achievements and Prospect

Stronger BRICS cooperation conforms to the trend of the times. 2006 to 2016 is the first "Golden Decade" for BRICS cooperation. The BRICS has made encouraging progress out of its humble beginning. The BRICS has evolved from a concept to a sound operation mechanism. Economically, the percentage of the economic aggregate of the BRICS in the global economy has risen from 12% to 23%, total trade volume from 11% to 16%, and foreign investment from 7% to 12%. The BRICS have contributed to over half of the global economic growth rate, and has become the most important engine to drive the global economy. As to the mechanism construction, the BRICS cooperation mechanism has grown into an all-dimensional, multi-layered cooperative framework ushered by the regular meetings of state leaders, and supported by the conferences of senior representatives for security issues, foreign ministers and other senior officials of the ministerial level. As an example for and a significant platform of the South-South cooperation in the new era, the BRICS are playing an increasingly important role in global governance. On international affairs, as the main constructive and progressive forces for a multipolar world and democratic global governance regime, BRICS are strongly committed to multilateralism with the United Nations at the core, and to jointly addressing the global challenges, such as terrorism, contagious diseases and climate change.

Three distinctive features of BRICS cooperation.

First, equal partnership. BRICS member states follow the concept of planning together, building together and benefiting together, and strive to achieve win-win cooperation for common development. The BRICS do not seek hegemony and power politics, which conforms to the trend of the times and to the interests of developing countries, thereby widely recognized by the international community.

Second, action-oriented. In recent years, the arguments of "BRICS fade", "Useless BRICS" and "BRICS Collapse" never stop, which are answered best with the facts and actions of tangible cooperation of BRICS countries, including the launch and operation of the New Development Bank and its Africa Regional Center, as well as our effective cooperation in infrastructure development, trade, and investment.

Third, unity amongst diversity. We will never deny the difficulties and challenges we face, for instance, some BRICS countries are faced with economic slow-down, and China and India have friction over the border issue. But we share our common belief that these difficulties and challenges are temporary, and are family business. We are fully confident that motivated by the shared mission of development and interests, the BRICS have the wisdom and capability to resolve the differences and disputes, and that cooperation and development remain the main theme among the BRICS. Nothing will hold back BRICS momentum of development and cooperation.

The Xiamen Summit: unveiling the next "Golden Decade". As the current BRICS Chairman, China will hold the Ninth BRICS Summit in the Chinese coastal city of Xiamen next month. Focusing on the theme of "BRICS: Stronger Partnership for a Brighter Future", the five members will map out an ambitious blueprint for another Golden Decade of BRICS cooperation. With the spirit featuring openness, inclusiveness, cooperation and win-win results and three pillars of politics, economics and people-to-people exchanges, BRICS partners will work together to forge ahead political mutual trust, complement each other's development strengths in economic cooperation and trade, meet each other's demand, and deepen mutually beneficial cooperation. Working together, we will build a BRICS with stronger mutually beneficial cooperation, a BRICS with more diverse and vibrant cultural exchange and mutual learning, and last but not the least, a BRICS with more robust capacity to engage in global governance. Going forward, we are fully confident that the BRICS will make greater contribution to world peace, stability, development, and prosperity.

The leading and coordinating role of China and SA. As the only African country in the BRICS, South Africa is a natural bridge between BRICS and the whole of Africa. South Africa's membership not only enhances the representativeness of the BRICS, but also enriches the strategic substance of BRICS cooperation. Over the years, South Africa has played an active and important role in promoting cooperation between the BRICS and Africa on peace, development, and Africa's regional integration. South Africa will hold the BRICS Chairmanship and the 10th BRICS Summit next year. China and SA will maintain close exchanges and coordination on the BRICS priorities and outcome design, so as to play a leading role in ensuring the efficiency and results for future BRICS cooperation.

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