While President Cyril Ramaphosa on Wednesday wished the government and people of China a Lunar New Year and the annual Spring Festival, Ambassador of the People’s Republic of China to South Africa Chen Xiaodong said his country’s economy is resilient and has potential for growth, despite recovering from the impact of the Covid pandemic.
Speaking at a ceremony at the Chinese Embassy in Pretoria to celebrate the Year of the Rabbit, Chen said China remains the world’s second-largest economy – growing steadily, with annual GDP expected to exceed $17.4 trillion this year.
Our economic fundamentals for long-term growth, have not changed.
China is improving its response strategies to COVID-19, according to actual situations. We are doing our best to protect people’s lives and health.
“We have moved into a new phase in the COVID response and there is a lot of hope ahead,” Chen said.
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Despite the challenges of Covid, Chen told China:
- He achieved great success in holding the Winter Olympics and Paralympics in Beijing.
- The launch of the Shenzhou 13, 14 and 15 spaceflights, after the completion of the construction of the Chinese space station, “which is now China’s home in space.”
Chen said, “These feats are not easy to achieve and should be cherished.
In 2022, Chinese diplomacy has overcome great difficulties and made great progress.
Over the past year, President Xi Jinping has hosted and attended more than 10 important international and multilateral meetings at home and abroad.
Through these exchanges, he has worked to strengthen the community with a shared future for mankind and high-quality cooperation on the Belt and Road Initiative.
“President Xi has shown how China attaches great importance to global harmony, friendship and justice — to ideas of searching for common ground and honoring words with concrete actions.”
Year of cooperation between China and South Africa
Chen said that 2022 has been “the year of solidarity and cooperation between China and South Africa, with fruitful results.”
The trade volume between our two countries in 2022 will be close to $60 billion – up 7% and reaching a record level in recent years.
China has been South Africa’s largest trading partner for 14 years, and South Africa has been China’s largest trading partner in Africa for 13 years in a row.
“At the 5th China International Import Expo, South African companies performed admirably – generating nearly $100 million in turnover – 1.5 times over last year.
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Investment cooperation between the two sides also showed great momentum.
“Chinese companies have invested more than $25 billion in South Africa, and hundreds of Chinese companies have participated in the Fourth South African Investment Conference,” Chen said.
He added, “As we happily bid farewell to the wonderful Year of the Tiger, let us celebrate together the upcoming Year of the Rabbit!
“In a few days, we will celebrate the Chinese New Year together. This is the most important traditional festival for the Chinese people.
“Chinese New Year is a time of celebration, joy, blessing and hope. In Chinese culture, the rabbit symbolizes kindness, beauty and peace.
“For a long time, the Chinese community here has united in the struggle for friendship between China and South Africa. I have also been an active participant in the social and economic development of South Africa.”
A modern socialist country
Qi said that 2023 will mark “the beginning of China’s new journey of building a modern socialist country, as well as the 25th anniversary of China-South Africa relations.”
In his letter, Ramaphosa said he values the vibrant economic ties and political cooperation that characterize its partnership with the People’s Republic of China.
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Ramaphosa said: “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 also celebrate 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 welcome His Excellency President Xi Jinping to South Africa. These occasions provide ample reason for celebration.”