Chinese President Xi Jinping and his South African counterpart Jacob Zuma exchanged messages on Sunday on the launch of “the Year of China” in South Africa. The two countries have reached a new consensus on furthering bilateral relations.
“Under the framework of “the Year of China” in South Africa, both China and South Africa will hold a series of wonderful activities on mutual exchanges in South Africa’s nine provinces and major cities, which will open a new chapter for the people-to-people and cultural exchanges between China and South Africa,” Xi said in his congratulatory message.
China is South Africa’s largest trade partner. However, contrary to expectations, China’s Commerce Ministry data shows direct investment between the two countries has declined significantly.
China invested $54 million in South Africa in 2013, almost 70 per cent less than in the previous year. South Africa invested close to $13 million in China, nearly 50 per cent less than 2012.
Zuma said in his message to Xi on Sunday that China and South Africa’s hosting of the “country year” celebrations bear a historic significance in further boosting their bilateral ties.
Trade between South Africa and China grew from $11 billion in 2008 to $24 billion dollars in 2013.
During Chinese President Xi Jinping’s State visit to South Africs, 2014 was declared year of South Africa in China and 2015 will be the Year of China in South Africa.
South Africa, one of Africa’s largest economies alongwith Nigeria, has become an increasingly important port of call for China as a gateway to the continent.
China and South Africa have also boosted cooperation in recent years within the BRICS bloc, fueled by frustration with a lack of participation in global governance, particularly in the World Bank and International Monetary Fund.
In 2011, South Africa joined to give the BRICS a broader geographic representation. South Africa will establish an African regional center for the newly formed $100 BRICS bank.
“South Africa sees China as a key partner in the implementation of some of the infrastructure and development plans on the continent. China regards South Africa as a key partner in advancing its relations with the African continent,” said Foreign Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane in December last year.
TBP and Agencies