As President Cyril Ramaphosa on Wednesday wished the government and the people of China a Lunar New Year and the annual spring festival, People’s Republic of China ambassador to South Africa Chen Xiaodong, said his country’s economy was resilient and had growth potential, despite recovering from the impact of the Covid pandemic.
Speaking at a function held at the Chinese embassy in Pretoria to mark the Year of the Rabbit, Chen said China remained the world’s second-largest economy – growing steadily, with the annual gross domestic product expected to exceed $17.4 trillion this year.
“Our economic fundamentals for long-term growth, remain unchanged.
“China is improving its Covid response strategies, according to the actual situations. We do our level best to protect people’s lives and health.
“We have moved onto a new stage in Covid response and there is much hope lying ahead,” said Chen.
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Despite Covid challenges, Chen said China:
- Achieved great success in holding the Beijing Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games.
- Launched the Shenzhou 13, 14 and 15 spaceflights, having finished building the Chinese space station, “which is now China’s home in space”.
Said Chen: “These feats are not easy to achieve and must be cherished.
“In 2022, China’s diplomacy weathered major difficulties and made major advances.
“Within last year, President Xi Jinping hosted and attended more than 10 important international and multilateral meetings at home and abroad.
“Through these exchanges, he worked to promote the community with a shared future for mankind and high-quality Belt and Road cooperation.
“President Xi has demonstrated how China attaches great importance to world harmony, friendship and justice – to the ideas of seeking common ground and honouring words with concrete action.”
Year of cooperation between China and South Africa
Year 2022, said Chen, was “a year of solidarity and cooperation between China and South Africa, with fruitful results”.
“The trade volume between our two countries in 2022, reached nearly $60 billion – up by 7% and reaching a record high in recent years.
“China has been South Africa’s largest trading partner for 14 years, with South Africa having been China’s largest trading partner in Africa for 13 years in a row.
“At the 5th China International Import Expo, South African companies delivered a great performance – achieving an intended turnover of nearly $100 million – 1.5 times over last year.
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“The investment cooperation between our two sides, has also shown great momentum.
“Chinese companies have invested over $25 billion in South Africa and hundreds of Chinese firms took part in South Africa’s fourth investment conference,” said Chen.
He added: “As we bid a joyful farewell to an amazing year of the Tiger, let us together celebrate the upcoming Year of the Rabbit!
“In a few days, we will observe the Chinese New Year together. This is the most important traditional festival for the Chinese people.
“The Chinese New Year is a time of celebration, joy, blessing and hope. In the Chinese culture, the rabbit symbolises kindness, beauty and peace.
“For a long time, the Chinese community here has been united in striving for China-South Africa friendship. You have also been active participants in South Africa’s social and economic development.”
Modern socialist country
Che said 2023 would mark “the beginning of China’s new journey to build a modern socialist country, as well as the 25th anniversary of China-South Africa relations”.
In his message, Ramaphosa said he valued vibrant economic relations and political cooperation, characterising its partnership with the People’s Republic of China.
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Said Ramaphosa: “My dear brothers and sisters from China and all Chinese communities around the world, I wish you all a happy Lunar New Year and a prosperous Spring Festival 2023.
“As we enter the New Year, we are also celebrating the 25th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the Republic of South Africa and the People’s Republic of China in 1998.
“In addition, South Africa will succeed China as chair and host of the next BRICS Summit, during which, we hope to receive his excellency, President Xi Jinping in South Africa. These occasions provide ample cause for celebration.”