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China - South Africa Relations


The People’s Republic of China and the Republic of South Africa  established diplomatic relations on 1 January 1998. The past five years and more have witnessed rapid and all-round development of the bilateral relations. The two countries signed the Pretoria Declaration on Partnership and set up the Bi-National Commission. There has been a frequent exchange of high level visits, and bilateral cooperation has continued to deepen in all areas.

1. Political Relations
   The friendship between the Chinese and South African peoples dates back to the 1950s. The Chinese people supported the people of South Africa in their struggle against apartheid and for racial equality and forged and have long maintained friendly relations with black people’s liberation organizations such as the African National Congress. The birth of New South Africa in 1994 paved the way for the establishment of diplomatic relations between our two countries and development of all-round bilateral relations.
   In 1997, the Governments of the two countries reached agreement  on relevant issues regarding the establishment of diplomatic relations and in December signed the Joint Communique on the Establishment of Diplomatic Relations, in which the South African Government affirmed that it would stick to the One-China position. On 1 January 1998, the two countries formally established diplomatic relations, hence opening a new chapter in China-South Africa relations.
   Since the establishment of diplomatic ties, bilateral cooperation in the political and economic and trade and other fields has continued to grow, thus bringing bilateral relations to a new high.
   In April 2000, Chinese President Jiang Zemin paid a state visit to South Africa. During the visit, the two heads of state signed the Pretoria Declaration, marking the formal establishment of “partnership” between the two countries. In the document, the two sides announced the founding of a high-level Bi-National Commission in order to further enhance the partnership and promote cooperation in the political, economic and other fields.
   Thanks to careful preparations, the Bi-National Commission was officially inaugurated during the state visit by President Thabo Mbeki in December 2001. The two heads of state presided over the first plenary session of the BNC. Separate talks on cooperation in relevant areas were held between leading members and their counterparts from ministries and departments of foreign affairs, economic cooperation and trade, public security, judiciary, science-technology, energy and tourism. Now, four sectoral committees on foreign affairs, economy and trade, science-technology and national defense have been set up within the framework of the BNC. Some other government departments of the two countries have also set up channels of communication at different levels and stayed in regular working consultations. The founding of the BNC has identified the framework and laid a solid foundation for the long-term development of bilateral relations.
  It should be emphasized that there has been a frequent exchange of high level visits between the two countries, which plays an irreplaceable role in furthering the bilateral relations. Since 1998, on the South African side, Vice President Mbeki (April 1998), Speaker Ginwala of the National Assembly (October 1998), President Mandela (May 1999), President Mbeki (December 2001) and Ms. Pandor, Chairperson of the National Council of Provinces (October 2002) and others have paid visits to China. On the Chinese side, Vice President Hu Jintao (February 1999), Chairman Li Peng of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress (November 1999), President Jiang Zemin (April 2000), Chairman Li Ruihuan of the National Committee of the People’s Political Consultative Conference (April 2001), Premier Zhu Rongji (September 2002) and Vice Premier Li Lanqing (January 2003) and others have paid visits to South Africa.
In addition, friendly contacts between parliaments and between political parties have also been maintained.

2. Economic Relations and Trade
The economic cooperation and trade between China and South Africa has developed fast and has great potentials though it started late.
It was in early 1990s that the two countries commenced direct commercial interflow. The volume of bilateral trade in 1991 was US$14 million and in 1997 over US$1. 5 billion. Since the establishment of diplomatic ties, bilateral trade has grown rapidly. It stood at US$2. 58 billion in 2002, of which China’s imports amounted to US$1.269 billion and exports US$1.311 billion. For the first half of this year, the bilateral trade volume reached US$1.67 billion. South Africa is now China’s biggest trade partner in Africa, with China-South Africa trade volume accounting for about 20% of the total volume of China-Africa trade.
Two-way investment also has been on increase in recent years. By the end of 2002, Chinese enterprises had invested US$160 million in real terms in 98 projects in the fields of agriculture, textiles, electronics, mining as well as banking, transportation, communications in South Africa, while South African enterprises had invested in 206 projects in China.
The two countries have signed a series of government agreements on protection of investments, trade, economic and technical cooperation, avoidance of double taxation, civil air transport, maritime transport and etc. With the Sectoral Committee on Economy and Trade under the Bi-National Commission serving as a contact channel, the government departments of the two countries in charge of economic cooperation and trade have stayed in close consultations on matters concerning China-South Africa cooperation in WTO, protection of intellectual property rights and the New Partnership for Africa’s Development as well as specific issues relating to the bilateral economic cooperation and trade.
3. Flourishing Bilateral Cooperation in Other Fields
Since the establishment of diplomatic ties, there have been extensive exchanges and cooperation between China and South Africa in such fields as culture, science-technology, education, judiciary affairs, health and sports, etc., and official agreements including several of the above-mentioned fields have been signed. In November 2002, China and South Africa signed a Memorandum of Understanding on the Implementation Plan for Outbound Travel by Chinese Citizens to South Africa , thus making South Africa the first country of destination in Sub-Sahara Africa for travel by Chinese citizens. In April this year, the first group of Chinese tourists set foot on South Africa. The exchanges between China and South Africa at the provincial and municipal levels have been brisk. Up to now, 15 Chinese provinces and cities have signed sister-province or sister-city agreements with provinces or cities of South Africa.

4. Bright Vistas for China-South Africa Amicable Cooperation
Both being developing countries, China and South Africa share similar historical experiences and face common challenges in development. To further expand and deepen our bilateral amicable cooperation not only serves the long-term and fundamental interests of the Chinese and South African peoples, but also is instrumental in safeguarding the legitimate rights and interests of the developing countries through unity and cooperation and in promoting the establishment of a just and rational new international political and economic order. With mutual efforts, China-South Africa relations are bound to have broader prospects for development.

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