Cape Town – Surging relations between South Africa and China have further deepened with a historical visit by that country’s Standing Committee chairman of the National People’s Congress, Wu Bangguo.
Bangguo, who is visiting South Africa for the first time, but has been to the continent six times, addressed the National Assembly on Wednesday.
His visit followed that of President Jacob Zuma to that country in August last year and earlier this year.
Mutual relations between the two nations have since been elevated to that of “comprehensive strategic partnership.”
During his impassioned address to the House, Bangguo promised sustained bilateral relations between the two developing nations and enhanced relations with the rest of the African continent.
“South Africa has achieved dynamic economic growth, realised racial harmony and improved people’s livelihoods … the successful hosting of the World Cup has promoted South Africa’s image as an emerging big country.
“Economic cooperation and trade have grown rapidly. China and South Africa have signed multiple bilateral economic cooperation agreements on investments, trade, technology and taxation.
“Bilateral trade has surged from $1.6 billion to $25.7 billion… China is now the biggest trading partner of South Africa and South Africa is China’s top trading partner in Africa,” said Bangguo.
In 2007, the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China invested $5.46 billion in the Standard Bank of South Africa, China’s largest financial investment in Africa thus far, he said.
Bangguo said that last year 54 000 Chinese tourists visited South Africa and more than 64 000 South Africans had visited their country.
“We have important historical responsibilities, broad common interests and ample space for cooperation and our bilateral relationship has thus taken on greater strategic and global significance.
“China will continue to work with South Africa to strengthen the foundation of our strategic cooperation in line with the principles of mutual respect, equality, and common development … create a better future for the China-South Africa comprehensive strategic partnership,” said Bangguo.
He said Africa was developing and making progress and he had felt “its vigour and vitality.”
“Africa today enjoys rapid economic and social development, and rising international statue and influence. A new Africa forging ahead in unity and confidence is emerging,” he said.
Bangguo’s visit to the continent is aimed to “further promote the China-Africa traditional friendship and push forward China-Africa relations.”
After the address, Bangguo met with President Zuma, where the two were set to discuss bilateral relations.
Bangguo also wanted to hear Zuma’s views on the African continent. – Francis Hweshe, BuaNews