(Published - 3 May 2019)
China and South Africa have a long history of mutually respectful and beneficial relations, explained Consul General of China Jin Ling, who visited the University of the Western Cape (UWC) this month.
He explained that China has always had strong relations with Africa, and in particular, South Africa, for many years and looks to continue building this with greater depth in the future. “China-Africa trade volume has reached US$204.19 billion in 2018 and more than 3 700 Chinese enterprises are investing and developing their business in Africa.”
China-South Africa relations, in particular, triple-jumped from the status of “partnership” to “strategic partnership” to “comprehensive strategic partnership”. China has become South Africa’s largest trading partner for 10 consecutive years and the country’s most important source of foreign investment and tourism. In 2018, bilateral trade reached US$43.55 billion while direct investment from China to South Africa has reached more than US$25 billion, creating more than 40 000 jobs locally.
“China-South Africa relations are strategic and all-round mutually beneficial, and is supported by four major co-operation platforms, namely the Forum on China–Africa Cooperation (FOCAC), BRICS (Brasil, Russia, India, China, South Africa), the Belt and Road Initiative and the South-South Cooperative initiative.
“We are committed to being South Africa’s true friend and most reliable co-operation partner for economic and social transformation and development. We will support South Africa to become the locomotive and production base to drive African industrialisation and modernisation, and fully support South Africa to become a pilot demonstration country for connecting the Belt and Road construction within Africa,” said Consul General Lin.
The University of the Western Cape’s Rector and Vice-Chancellor, Professor Tyrone Pretorius, said he is very pleased that the Consul General visited the campus to discuss China-South Africa relations. “Since 2013, with the establishment of what the Chinese government called the Belt and Road Initiative, many infrastructure developments have been completed that benefit millions of Africans in a wide variety of countries,” Prof Pretorius commented.
UWC has worked with China for many years. The University’s UNESCO Chair of Hydrogeology, Professor Yongsin Xu, has been with UWC since the early 2000s. “At one point in the early 2000s, South Africa was a very popular higher education destination for Chinese students and, at the time, UWC boasted the largest cohort of Chinese students enrolled full-time at the university. As an institution, what we took away from that is the ethic of hard work.”
In December 2018, UWC signed an agreement with China to establish a Confucius Institute. The University is working towards implementing the logistics of hosting the institute, one that will bring a taste of Chinese culture, language and history to the institution, its staff, students and community at large.