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The existence of strategic relationship at the level of people to people and the promotion of the exchange of their cultures on an ongoing basis would certainly deliver the expected translation of the relations into the creation of employment and development in a sustainable way, that was one of the issues the Chairperson of the National Council of Provinces (NCOP), Ms Thandi Modise, highlighted during her courtesy call meeting with the Ambassador of the People’s Republic of China, Mr Ling Songtiang, at Parliament today.

Ms Modise told Mr Songtiang that she has been informed that South Africa successfully launched the South Africa-China High Level People-to-People Exchange Mechanism in April this year. The People-to-People Exchange Mechanism has further added to the already existing strategic relations between the two countries. In addition to the Government-to-Government engagements, it has created an opportunity for non-government entities across academia, business and civil society to interact more frequently through organised structures.

Ms Modise said the exchange of rich cultures of the people of South Africa and China will certainly make the relations, and tourism in particular, flourish. Ms Modise mentioned the exchange of rich types of music the South African and Chinese peoples have for example, and the movement of South Africans and Chinese between their countries to entrench the relations between them.

Ms Modise told Mr Songtiang about the resources that are produced in South Africa but don’t benefit South Africans. She said those resources include steel, platinum and marble. “Platinum is produced in my province (North West) but it does not benefit the people of North West,” she said.

She said that contradiction needs to be addressed by ensuring that the people of North West, for instance, enjoy the beneficiation of the production of platinum and other resources that are produced in their area.

Ms Modise said the two countries have thriving political and economic relations. “It is important that we keep this momentum going. We have learnt valuable lessons from China’s remarkable success story over the years, and there are elements which we wish to replicate in accordance with our unique local circumstances.”

Ms Modise reassured Mr Songtiang that the strong relationship between Parliament and the Congress of China will continue to explore opportunities to further promote cooperation between South Africa and China. The Republic of South Africa and the People’s Republic of China have a Comprehensive Strategic Partnership (CSP) relationship, with China currently involved in several important development projects in the country.

Mr Songtiang, who has been an ambassador to many African countries that include Mali, Zambia and Liberia, expressed his appreciation for the courtesy call meeting with Ms Modise. He said he must be given just a year to play his role in ensuring the translation of the relationship into good results.

“I will be working to ensure that the relationship goes down to the villages of South Africa where it must make an impact. He said he and his country do not believe in empty diplomatic relations but believe in a relationship that translates into employment creation and development. He said the relationship must translate into the exchange of strategies of development that took the economy of China from low levels to higher levels.

By Mava Lukani
8 November 2017