China and South Africa Strengthen Ties

South African Vice President Kgalema Motlanthe met with Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao and Vice Premier Xi Jinping in Beijing this week to reinforce existing ties and pledge ongoing support and cooperation between the two developing countries, both of which are members of BRICS – the international political organization of prominent emerging market countries consisting of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa. It has been reported that Premier Wen Jiabao expressed his approval of the level of bilateral cooperation in recent years, noting that the two countries should make every effort to continue to support and assist one another by improving coordination and communication and safeguarding their common interests, as well as those of other developing countries.

Discussions addressed matters of mutual interest such as import/export between the two countries and cooperation on renewable energy and sustainable resource projects. The Premier is also in favor of encouraging Chinese companies and financial institutions to invest in South Africa’s infrastructure developments for transportation, communication and energy. China and South Africa will also promote exchanges between the two countries with regard to education, health services and culture. Following his meeting with the Chinese Premier, Vice President Motlanthe emphasized that South Africa valued its relations with China, noting that South African authorities were in favor of strengthening high-level cooperation with regard to trade, investment, tourism, aviation and other sectors.

Following through on the commitment for strengthening bilateral ties, China and South Africa have signed a deal relating to geology and mineral resources during a meeting between Chinese Vice Premier Xi Jinping and South African Vice President Kgalema Motlanthe. A second deal was signed between the two countries, sealing an agreement between the China Development Bank and the Development Bank of South Africa to provide financial support and bilateral cooperation relating to infrastructure in water resource utilization, transportation, housing, education and healthcare.

The talks and subsequent agreements are an affirmation of the comprehensive strategic partnership established between South Africa and China in August 2010, and it was noted by all parties that much had been achieved in the twelve months that had passed. Vice Premier Xi Jinping also called for closer cooperation between the two countries within the context of organizations such as the World Trade Organization, BRICS, the UN Security Council (of which China is a permanent member, and South Africa is a 2011 non-permanent member) and the G20.