The Executive Mayor of Mangaung Metropolitan City, Mr Thabo Manyoni,
Hon. Ministers Present here,
Your Excellency the Consul-General of the Peoples’ Republic of China to South Africa, Dr Sun Dali,
Members of the Executive Council from this province and from the North West province,
The Hon. Speaker and Members of the Provincial Legislature,
Executive Mayors and Mayors, Speakers and Chief Whips of the municipalities,
The captains of Industry and Business from the Peoples’ Republic of China and South Africa and the Free State province,
Distinguished Guests from the Peoples’ Republic of China both in South Africa and from the Chinese provinces in Jiangsu Jiangxi Fujian and Zhejiang provinces,
Representatives of the Chinese Universities present here (Wuyi Nanjing Agriculture University Yangzhou University Fujian Agriculture and Forestry University Nanchang University Jiangxi University of Technology and Zhejiang Agriculture and Forestry University),
Representatives from the Free State Universities (Central University of Technology and the University of the Free State,
Fellow citizens of Mangaung and the Free State,
Our visitors from other provinces.
Last year the President of China, His Excellency Xi Jinping and the government of China honoured us by declaring 2014 the year of South Africa in China. Through that gesture of goodwill, we aanced the promotion of the South African culture and the cooperation between the two countries and the Free State province and our co-operating provinces from the Peoples’ Republic of China some of whom are present here.
It is undoubtedly befitting that we also extend the same gesture to our friends through celebrating the Year of China in South Africa this year. To our Chinese guests, we convey our warmest greetings to you and welcome you in the Free State province – huanyiacuteng!
We also look forward to our national government hosting your national government for the 6th Forum of the China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) Summit in December. Following a successful Year of South Africa in China last year, we are excited to be the first province to host the Year of China in South Africa, Free State Week.
The year 2014 was indeed a successful Year of South Africa in China for the Free State province. Amongst other achievements we could mention: we successfully enrolled our students in various universities in China to pursue their studies in obtaining scarce skills needed to develop not only Free State but South Africa in general.
These students (who will be completing their Chinese language studies this year), shall embark on further studies in areas such as, but not limited to, Clinical Medicine Pharmacy Engineering (all facets of engineering including chemical electronic mechanical and mechatronics and others) Aeronautics Urban Planning Education Accounting Economics Mathematics amongst others.
In addition, we were able to attract investments into the province from the Chinese companies involved in the solar projects and construction. I have already announced in February that we have entered into a relationship with one company from China which will invest in the establishment of a Medical Equipment Manufacturing Company in the Special Economic Zone in Tshiame. This venture will create almost one thousand direct and indirect jobs for the local communities.
During the state visit to China in December 2014, President Jacob Gedleyihlekisa Zuma emphasized the importance of our country’s relationship with the Peoples’ Republic of China. Our relationship with China dates as far back as the early 1990’s. However, for the African National Congress (ANC) this relationship dates back to 1993 when the then ANC President Oliver Tambo took a trip to Beijing to cement the party to party relations. This engagement gave way for the South African Communist Party to forge links with the Chinese Communist Party towards the common goal of development in both countries.
China remained our friend even during the gloomy days of apartheid when Africans were oppressed and denied rights to live as humans in their land. Our Chinese friends stood by our side in our quest for liberation. We cannot and will not forget our friends.
The African nations fought for China’s seat at the United Nations to be restored in 1971 when twenty six countries voted in favour of the Peoples’ Republic of China. Until this day, we are witnessing the commitment made by the Chairman Mao Zedong, the founder of the Peoples’ Republic of China in response to that overwhelming support: “it was the African friends who carried China back to the UN.”
When President Zuma and other political leaders lobbied for Africa to be included in the BRICS grouping, The Peoples’ Republic of China led the campaign to support that motion – our friendship with China is real and has stood the test of time.
Today the Peoples’ Republic of China is South Africa’s largest trading partner in Africa. Since 2009, President Jacob Zuma has made stern inroads in strengthening the relations between the two countries. The outcome is manifest in bilateral trade which has soared to $60-billion by 2012 from $1.5- billion in the late 1990.
Our undertaking to consolidate the relations with the Peoples’ Republic of China is mainly influenced by our common agenda of aancing development in countries to eradicate poverty, unemployment and inequality.
Your Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen,
South Africa has solid bilateral and diplomatic policies and strategies that guide our cooperation with the Peoples’ Republic of China and other countries, including Africa. In areas where the utilization of the natural resource is required, the task will be carried out jointly in an open and transparent way based on commonly acknowledged rules.
We are conscious of dissenting views expressed by some quarters regarding our trading with the Peoples’ Republic of China. However, their views are more skewed to perceived disaantages of the relationship than the mutual benefits that both parties derive. It is a fallacious statement that China is only interested in our resources and their action will ultimately ‘under-develop’ Africa.
The MOU’s we have signed with the Peoples’ Republic of China and the provinces of China clearly spells out the areas of cooperation, benefits and implementation strategies. We will not be derailed from our developmental agenda by detractors whose motives are fuelled by self-enrichment rather than the interests of our people.
We will continue to work with the Peoples’ Republic of China and other countries in the implementation of various projects in the areas of education, health, agriculture, energy, etc. However, we have not turned a blind eye to the existing structural imbalance in our bilateral trade – our consistent interactions seek to redress that unevenness.
We are certain that China does not possess the colonial mentality which one of the greatest revolutionaries Cher Guevara observed as condescending. Our Chinese friends are not saying, “We come to give you the charity of our presence to teach you our science, to show you your errors, your lack of culture, your ignorance of elementary things”. No, instead the Peoples’ Republic of China has shown a keen interest in the revitalization of economic and trade relations for the benefit of both countries.
The rising number of tourists from China to South Africa and vice versa, bears testimony to the fruitful outcome of our bilateral trade. In 2013, South Africa received one hundred and fifty one thousand, eight hundred and forty seven (151 847) Chinese tourists. We hope that arising from this China Week the Free State province shall increase its share of the Chinese people visiting this province and South Africa.
Our Chinese partners have penetrated most African countries thereby assisting Africa to meet the technological needs and improve the lives of the people. I must mention that the Chinese have already created an enabling environment for Africa to export its products. It is for this reason that we are witnessing a rapid increase in our exportimport trade.
We have more than 100 multinational companies investing in our country and with these celebrations we are hoping to attract even more businesses to partner with us in the areas of agro-processing, mineral beneficiation, energy and industrial capacity building.
Here in the Free State province, we have a fully functional China-South African Agricultural Technology Demonstration Centre in Gariep. Emanating from that Fish Hatchery venture, we have since established six fish farms in the neighbouring towns of Bethulie, Springfontein, Koffiefontein, Fouriesmith, Za and Petrusburg.
In relation to skills development, the Chinese Ministry of Agriculture has made a commitment to take our students from the Xhariep District to train them in aqua-culture in China. Upon the completion of their studies, they shall take over the management and running of the Fish Hatcheries which is currently still led by the Chinese citizens.
We therefore, reject the suggestions of “exploitation and manipulation” made by the critics who do not offer any better alternatives and would rather see Africa’s continual dependence on the Western countries.
Throughout the years of engagements with our Chinese counterparts, they have always displayed a commitment and willingness to go for a win-win relationship which in the long run would ensure self-reliance. The values of dignity, transparency and openness form the core of our relationship with the Chinese.
The resolution of the 5th FOCAC Ministerial Conference to “protect our shared development space, promote the construction of a more open and free global governance mechanism, carry out further strategic dialogues, exchange experiences on national governance, promote mutual trust and broaden friendly cooperation” remains the anchor of our relationship.
Thus far, no party has deviated from this commitment and we are not expecting any surprises from the players. Our resolve is to promote investment in agriculture, mining, tourism, construction, infrastructure and manufacturing. The role of China in the implementations of projects in these identified sectors is crucial.
The Minister of Science and Technology Minister Naledi Pandor introduced the Ten-Year Innovation Plan which seeks to use South Africa’s indigenous knowledge systems in new innovations we look forward to working with China in this endeavour. Part in this initiative includes the establishment of Science and Technology Parks in our localities to encourage our young people to become innovative. We will greatly appreciate your technical assistance in this regard.
Our cooperation with the Peoples’ Republic of China must not be misconstrued as an isolated action for the aancement of South Africa alone. The China-South Africa collaboration forms part of the regionalcontinental and global relations. We remain, in line with our national government’s efforts, committed to promoting the African Agenda, not only economically but also in terms of regional peace, security and stability, as the key determinants for socio- economic development in Africa.
For this reason, we denounce the barbaric acts meted out towards foreign nationals under the guise of xenophobia. We are Africans we must co-exist along each other peacefully as we have always done. As Africans we must capitalize more on ties that bind us than barriers that divides us. This violence must stop, we are one!
The celebration of the Year of China in South Africa in the same year that South Africa marks 21 years since the dawn of democracy should signal a turning point in the China-South Africa trade relations and leave an imprint in the lives of the Free Staters. The MOU’s that have been signed between our local municipalities of Letsemeng and Mantsopa with the Chinese provinces of Jiangxi and Zhejiang must be resuscitated and the projects must take off the ground.
I believe that the Chinese delegates from those provinces are here to continue the discussion and develop implementation strategies with the concerned municipalities – there must be action, we cannot talk forever! However, I must hasten to add that we know that the benefit we hope to derive shall not come overnight.
The aim of the hosting the Chinese in South Africa and in the Free State in this manner, is to promote better understanding of our relationship – a task which is jointly undertaken with mutual respect in order to strengthen trade and attract investment into each other’s territories.
Secondarily, we want to forge the people-to-people relations, including cultural relations, to enhance and enrich the healthy relations that exist between South Africa and the Peoples’ Republic of China.
Excellencies and Honourable Guests, I trust that we will have fruitful discussion and seize the opportunity to exchange best practices in mining, tourism, infrastructure, agro-processing, and other sectors. We have one goal – the development of our countries, therefore let us come up with innovative ways for investment in each other’s countries and provinces.
We have arranged to take you to various places throughout the province to explore tourism and investment opportunities. The Maluti-a-Phofung Special Economic Zone is one of the projects I would like you to pioneer as it is based on your progressive model.
The Mangaung Metropolitan Municipality shall also present infrastructure and investment plans which could be of vital importance in your decision-making. This is indeed an important milestone in the diplomatic calendar of our country and province which will culminate into the hosting of FOCAC.
FOCAC will further fortify the relations and deliberate on additional areas of mutual concern as detailed in the Comprehensive Strategic Partnership. As the Free State province, we are proud to say we have been and still are perhaps the main beneficiaries of the cooperation between SA and the Peoples’ Republic of China. Moving forward, we hope to draw lessons and adopt viable strategies that China used to achieve their current spectacular success.
On 27 April, we will celebrate our Freedom Day under the theme: “Celebrating the Beginning of the Third Decade of our Freedom through Accelerating Radical Economic Transformation”. This theme has a direct link to our Vision 2030, the national development blue print intended to confront economic injustice, inequality, poverty and unemployment.
With the National Development Plan, we want to radically transform our economy and make South Africa a better place to live in. We call on the investors from China to come on board and work with us on manufacturing, agro-processing and infrastructure projects that we want to implement to unlock our province’s potential. The details of the projects we intend to kick-start will be availed during the seminars.
In conclusion, I want to express my heartfelt gratitude to the President of the Peoples’ Republic of China for his continued support to our country and province, in particular. We appreciate a healthy and beneficial friendship we have with the Chinese. Personally I believe that we have a lot in common and therefore our future prospect is very promising. Our people are diligent and have what it takes to build a nation (socially amp economically) they just need financial and technical support.
I wish all of you a peaceful stay in the Free State province I assure you that our unique hospitality entice you to come back sooner. We hold fond memories of the beautiful renewed China and always long to prolong our visit in your lovely country.
Excellencies and ladies and gentlemen.
I thank you!
Province: Free State
Issued by: Free State Office of the Premier
Source : South African Government