4 August 2011
China plans to set up a cultural centre in South Africa to promote artistic and cultural exchanges between the two countries, visiting Chinese Vice Minister of Culture Zhao Shaohua said this week.
Shaohua made the announcement shortly before signing a programme of cooperation with acting Arts and Culture Minister Tokyo Sexwale in Pretoria on Tuesday.
“The cultural relations between South Africa and China are flourishing,” Shaohua said. “Culture knows no boundaries, and I was impressed by the dance of South African cultural groups during our Shanghai World Expo last year.
“To further cement our cultural relations, we will be establishing the Chinese Cultural Centre in South Africa very soon make the public aware of Chinese culture, as well as making greater contributions to China-South Africa cultural relations.
“We both have a very long history and we believe that through this Cultural Centre, we exchange our cultural diversity.”
Shaohua, who was speaking via a translator, also pledged 300 000 Chinese Yuan to develop cultural activities in South Africa.
Artistic, cultural exchanges
Sexwale said the agreement also looked at the possibilities of translation of Chinese books into South African languages and South African works into Chinese.
“This agreement will go a long way in extended our cultural relations in arts, film, books, language and culture as well as exhibition of our cultural dancers together,” Sexwale said.
“Through my observation, I’ve learnt that most foreign countries, including Germany and France, have language institutes in South Africa, so I want to propose that you set up your Chinese language institute as well.”
The Human Settlements Minister, noting that China was the second-biggest economic powerhouse in the world, said that through the agreement, the two countries would encourage their artists to visit each other.
Trade reaches new highs
Bilateral relations between South Africa and the People’s Republic of China reached a new high point in 2009/10.
By the end of 2009, the Department of Trade and Industry announced that China had become South Africa’s largest trading partner, with total trade amounting to approximately R120-billion.
During the state visit by President Jacob Zuma to China last year, companies and organisations from China and South Africa signed over a dozen cooperative documents at a business forum, involving projects in areas such as solar power, mining, telecommunications, insurance and finance.
A €240-million (about US$300-million) loan agreement between South African mobile phone operator Cell C and China Development Bank was included in the deals.
The announcements also included the acquisition by South Africa’s Discovery Health of a stake in Ping An Health Insurance, a subsidiary of China’s second-largest Insurer, the Ping An Insurance Group.
December 2007 marked 10 years since the official establishment of diplomatic relations between South Africa and China.