20 February 2013
South African President Jacob Zuma and International Relations Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane have held separate meetings this week with visiting Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi.
Jiechi and his delegation are in the country to assist with preparations for the next BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) summit, which he is “certain will break new ground”.
The summit takes place in Durban on 26 and 27 March, and preparations for it are at an advanced stage, according to Nkoana-Mashabane.
“South Africa is a very important country in Africa and the world,” Jiechi said after his meeting with Nkoana-Mashabane in Cape Town on Monday, adding that China and South Africa had to work harder for the benefit of developing countries.
Annual China-South Africa trade has reached almost $60-billion, and the two countries have economies that are “highly complementary” to one another, he said.
Nkoana-Mashabane said South Africa’s relationship with China had moved to the highest level with the signing of a comprehensive strategic partnership agreement with China in 2010.
“We are looking forward to not only signing agreements, but also building on the strong pillars that have been laid by this comprehensive strategic partnership treaty.”
Nkoana-Mashabane also invited Chinese companies to take full opportunity of the Square Kilometre Array (SKA) project, which South Africa is co-hosting with Australia.
China has also expanded by 200 the number of scholarships available to young South Africans to study in China, and Nkoana-Mashabane said the South African government would continue to assess the first batch of about 60 scholars sent to China.
Jiechi said China would welcome more students from South Africa, and encouraged more Chinese students to also come to study in South Africa.
Earlier this month, Nkoana-Mashabane celebrated 15 years of formal diplomatic relations between South Africa and China at a function hosted at the Chinese embassy in Pretoria.