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Monday, 21 August 2023
South Africa ready to work with China towards a shared future
Dear Fellow South African, 
This year marks 25 years of diplomatic ties between South Africa and the People’s Republic of China. Our bilateral relationship with our largest trading partner is almost as old as our democracy.
On Tuesday we will receive Chinese President Xi Jinping on his fourth state visit to South Africa. President Xi will also participate in the 15th BRICS Summit being hosted in Johannesburg.
In addition to a number of structured bilateral mechanisms, South Africa and China collaborate on international strategic platforms such as the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation or FOCAC, BRICS, the G20, the G77 plus China alliance, and others.
Relations between the two countries is underpinned by a 10-Year Strategic Programme of Cooperation (2020-2029). President Xi’s visit is an opportunity to assess progress in the areas of cooperation and identify ways of deepening collaboration.
Energy cooperation between South Africa and China is a focus area that holds great promise. In June this year companies from both countries participated in a New Energy Investment and Cooperation Conference, which looked at opportunities for collaboration in the green economy, the just energy transition and on the transfer of science and technology.
There are already around 200 Chinese companies operating in this area in South Africa.
South Africa has a great deal to learn from China’s development path. Among other achievements, China has lifted nearly 800 million people out of poverty over a 40 year period. According to World Bank data, through this China has contributed close to three quarters of the global reduction in the number of people living in extreme poverty.
As partners in development, China and South Africa have long shared a common understanding that trade and investment are the foremost catalysts for improving the living standards of our respective peoples.
South Africa is eager to deepen its collaboration within the frameworks of China’s common prosperity doctrine and strategy and our own National Development Plan and Economic Reconstruction and Development Plan. South Africa is also keen to harness the developmental potential of China’s Belt and Road Initiative announced by President Xi in 2013. 
We are actively collaborating on the design and implementation of poverty alleviation strategies aligned with our respective developmental visions, as well as on women and youth empowerment.
As South Africa we want to address the trade deficit between South Africa and China.
Bilateral trade with China has grown exponentially, from less than R1 billion in 1998 to over R614 billion in 2022. We hope to use this state visit to discuss how to narrow the significant trade deficit that exists in China’s favour, mainly through facilitating greater entry of value-added South African goods, products and services into the Chinese market.
Tourism promotion is another area of cooperation. With the end of the COVID-19 pandemic, China is an important source for tourism. It is significant that the number of visitors from China in June 2023 was four times higher than the same time last year.
South African Tourism expects that inbound Chinese tourism will recover to pre-COVID levels by 2026. We will be actively promoting our country as a tourism destination for Chinese tourists at the China International Import Expo, China-Africa Economic and Trade Expo and others. It is encouraging that direct flights between South Africa and China are increasing.
In 2025, South Africa will assume the presidency of the G20 group of countries, and we are encouraged by China’s support for our presidency. Our collaboration with China in international affairs and on multilateral platforms is underpinned by a commitment to the transformation of global governance institutions to make them more inclusive and to give more developing economy countries a voice.
We are encouraged by China’s ongoing commitment to supporting African countries to meet the aspirations contained in the African Union’s Agenda 2063, and to the success of the African Continental Free Trade Area.
As we mark this significant milestone in South Africa-China relations, our country stands ready to work closely with the government and people of China towards a shared future of meaningful and mutual benefit.
With best regards,