Remarks by H.E. Ambassador-designate Chen Xiaodong at Virtual Reception Celebrating 71st Anniversary of the Founding of the People’s Republic of China
28 September 2020
Your Honorable Mr. Pravin Gordhan, Minister of Public Enterprises,
Ladies and gentlemen,
It’s my great pleasure to gather with you via video, to celebrate the 71st anniversary of the People’s Republic of China. This is my first virtual meeting with friends from South Africa as the new Chinese Ambassador. On behalf of the Chinese Embassy in Pretoria, I wish to warmly welcome all our distinguished guests. My deep thanks go to all of you for your strong support to China-South Africa and China-Africa relations and to the work of the Chinese Embassy over the years.
As Assistant Foreign Minister covering Africa, I made many trips to South Africa and other African countries. I saw for myself the fast and all-round progress of China-South Africa and China-Africa relations. Today’s reception has again impressed on me the profound friendship between the Chinese and South Africa people and the shared aspiration of all sectors of our societies to deepen bilateral exchanges and cooperation.
Ladies and gentlemen,
Our world is changing in profound ways, compounded by a pandemic unseen in a century. Mankind faces severe challenges and difficult choices in 2020. As the country first affected by the virus, China, under the strong leadership of the CPC Central Committee with Comrade Xi Jinping at the core, lost no time in waging an all-round, people’s war to control the virus. Thanks to China’s solid national strength built in the past 71 years, especially since reform and opening up, we achieved major strategic results in our battle against the pandemic. This heroic struggle fully reflected China’s national character, strength and sense of responsibility.
Despite the pressure at home, China has done its best to help the international community. China sent 34 medical expert teams to 32 countries, including African countries, to share anti-pandemic experience. China made 283 shipments of medical supplies to over 150 countries and four international organizations. China provided and exported supplies to more than 200 countries and regions. With concrete actions, China has shown its commitment to building a community with a shared future for mankind and an even closer China-Africa community with a shared future.
The Chinese government has made coordinated progress in pandemic response and the reopening of its economy. China has become the first major economy to restore growth since the outbreak, leading in both pandemic control and economic reopening. This shows the great resilience and vitality of our country. China will work to root out absolute poverty with even greater resolve and efforts. We will endeavor to complete the building of a moderately prosperous society in all respects, and make greater contributions to global poverty reduction and human progress.
In the face of the evolving international landscape, China has tapped into its huge market and the big potential of domestic demand. We are now fostering a new economic dynamic with free-flowing domestic circulation as the mainstay and mutually reinforced by international circulation. China remains committed to win-win opening up by advancing the Belt and Road cooperation. We are joining hands with other countries to build an open world economy. China is an emerging market with a population of 1.4 billion and the largest middle-income group in the world. The resilience and potential of China’s growth will provide huge opportunities for the economic recovery and development of South Africa and countries around the world.
Ladies and gentlemen,
The special bond of “comrades plus brothers” between China and South Africa has emerged stronger from our fight against imperialism, colonialism and racism, and from our pursuit of common development through solidarity and win-win cooperation. Over the past 22 years of our diplomatic ties, China-South Africa relations have made great leaps, from partnership, to strategic partnership and to comprehensive strategic partnership. President Xi Jinping made three state visits to South Africa, and co-chaired the Beijing Summit of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) with President Cyril Ramaphosa. The two leaders successfully exchanged visits in 2018. The two presidents met many times on bilateral and multilateral occasions and mapped out a blueprint for China-South Africa and China-Africa relations.
Under the guidance of the two leaders, the political trust between our two countries has been deepening. We have been enjoying mutual support on issues concerning each other’s core interests and major concerns. The cooperation between our countries has yielded fruitful outcomes. China has been South Africa’s largest trading partner for 11 years, and South Africa China’s largest trading partner in Africa for 10 years. Two-way investment has also seen a notable increase. Cultural and people-to-people exchanges are getting closer. We established the first high-level people-to-people exchange mechanism between China and Africa. We held the Year of China and the Year of South Africa in each other’s countries for the first time in the history of China-Africa relations. The two sides strengthened coordination and cooperation in multilateral organizations to jointly safeguard the common interests of our two countries and other developing countries in regional and international affairs.
During the pandemic, China and South Africa have joined hands in fighting the disease. We showed solidarity and firm resolve to overcome the difficulties, injecting positive energy into China-Africa and global anti-pandemic cooperation. President Xi Jinping and President Cyril Ramaphosa have exchanged letters, messages and phone calls on many occasions. The two leaders jointly hosted the Extraordinary China-Africa Summit on Solidarity against COVID-19 to discuss ways for China and Africa to defeat the virus together. Up to now, China has donated more than 6 million masks, hundreds of thousands of testing kits, ventilators, protective suits and other supplies to South Africa. The two sides also shared pandemic control experiences. We will continue to provide assistance to South Africa in light of your needs. Friends from all sectors in South Africa have also made cash and in-kind donations to support China’s fight against the epidemic. All these reflect the profound friendship between our countries and peoples in trying times.
We are glad to see that since the outbreak of the pandemic in South Africa, President Ramaphosa has immediately set up and led the National Command Council for COVID-19 response, and declared a national state of disaster. The ANC government has taken a series of pandemic prevention and control measures such as the national lock-down and the closure of borders to prevent the import and spread of coronavirus, saving thousands of South African people’s precious lives. Now the pandemic situation in South Africa is getting much better and the economic and social development is getting back on track. All those decisive measures have demonstrated the remarkable leadership of President Ramaphosa and the ANC government. Please accept our congratulations.
Ladies and gentlemen,
This year marks the 20th anniversary of FOCAC. It is a momentous year in the history of China-Africa relations. Over the past two decades, especially since the Johannesburg and Beijing summits, the win-win cooperation between China and Africa has covered almost all African countries and delivered real benefits to our peoples. China is ready to work with Africa to chart the course for post-pandemic cooperation, and follow through on the outcomes of the FOCAC Beijing Summit and the Extraordinary China-Africa Summit. China will continue to support Africa’s fight against the pandemic, and advance the high quality and high standard Belt and Road cooperation with African countries. Hopefully this will facilitate Africa’s economic recovery in the post-COVID-19 era.
Ladies and gentlemen,
The year 2020 also marks the 75th anniversary of the victory of the World Anti-Fascist War and the founding of the United Nations. During the Summits commemorating the 75th Anniversary of the United Nations, President Xi Jinping delivered important speeches, proposing that the UN must stand firm for justice, uphold the rule of law, promote cooperation and focus on real action.
At such a critical juncture, it is more important than ever to strengthen solidarity and coordination and advocate win-win cooperation. Unfortunately, a certain country willfully walks away from its international commitments, withdraws from international treaties and organizations, and recklessly pursues unilateralism, protectionism and bullying. Such acts have seriously undermined multilateralism, free trade and international fairness and justice. This is not conducive to the common interests of the international community, including China and South Africa. China will continue to uphold multilateralism, safeguard the UN-centered international system and the WTO-centered multilateral trading regime, and take an active part in the reform of global governance system.
As President Ramaphosa said at the UN Summits, “as the international community, let us choose cooperation above unilateralism. Let us choose solidarity above isolation. Let us choose unity of purpose above narrow self-interest. Let us emerge from this great adversity strengthened and even more united”.
China will remain a promoter of world peace, a contributor to global development, a defender of the international order and a provider of public goods. We are committed to building a community with a shared future for mankind with countries around the world.
Ladies and gentlemen,
As the new Chinese Ambassador to South Africa, I am keenly aware of my responsibilities. I will do my utmost to fulfill my duties. I will work with friends from all sectors in South Africa to implement the important consensus reached by the two Presidents. We will work with South African colleagues to deepen friendship and mutual trust, expand cooperation in such areas as pandemic response, trade and economy, and strengthen people-to-people exchanges to raise our comprehensive strategic partnership to a new high.
In closing, let us together express our best wishes for the greater prosperity of the People’s Republic of China and the Republic of South Africa! A better future for China-South Africa and China-Africa relations! Good health to our two presidents and to all the distinguished guests!