Hu Jintao pays Zuma courtesy call

Monday, March 26, 2012

Pretoria - Chinese President Hu Jintao paid a courtesy call to President Jacob Zuma on the side-lines of the Nuclear Security Summit in Seoul.

The two used the meeting to discuss the development of China-South Africa ties, exchange views on improving cooperation between the two countries and discuss South Africa's bold new infrastructure plan.

Zuma outlined that China's contribution to South Africa's infrastructure plan would be welcome.

Announced during President Zuma's State of the Nation Address in February, the Plan includes the expansion of ports and rail-lines; modernising the road networks; building of dams and irrigation systems; building of power stations as well as renewable energy plants; laying of transmission lines and broadband inside the country; and expanding the building of schools, hospitals and universities.

"One of our key goals is to ensure the infrastructure plan helps to industrialise the South African economy further, including through the creation of a market for the manufacturing in South Africa of components and inputs for infrastructure. China is an important potential partner," Zuma told his Chinese counterpart.

Zuma said China had vast experience in infrastructure-build and was a strategic partner through the conclusion of the Beijing Declaration which the two had signed in August 2010.

The President used the opportunity to invite a team from the People's Republic of China to visit South Africa to be further briefed and to identify the opportunities for partnership and cooperation.

South Africa is China's largest trading partner in Africa and the bilateral trade volume accounts more than a quarter of China-Africa trade.

In his remarks, Zuma highlighted the contribution China was making to the country, adding that China was an important partner.

Zuma said developing South Africa-China relations benefitted both sides and Africa as a whole.

He said his country would like to implement all the consensus reached with China, and increase high-level visits, party-to-party exchanges and cultural cooperation between the two nations.

For his part, Hu said China was willing to promote the comprehensive strategic partnership with South Africa from three aspects to make it a good example for the unity and cooperation between major developing countries, as stipulated in the Beijing Declaration.

The Beijing Declaration, the comprehensive strategic partnership between China and South Africa, is vigorously developing with frequent exchanges of high-level visits, increases in mutual political trust and expansion of cooperation in fields such as economy and trade, people-to-people exchange, science and tourism, Hu said.

According to the Beijing Declaration, China and South Africa will work together to improve the structure of bilateral trade by encouraging the trade of high value-added manufactured goods and increasing China's investment in South Africa. The two sides will continue to deepen their cooperation in infrastructure development, including the construction of roads, railways, ports, power plants, airports and housing.

Hu said that China and South Africa shared common interests in many international affairs, and China hopes to cooperate with South Africa in the UN, G20, BRICS and other international forums to increase the collective voice of developing countries and propel the international political and economic order toward a more fair and reasonable direction.

Hu also praised South Africa's contribution to promoting peace and development in Africa, expressing firm support to the efforts of the African countries in solving regional affairs by themselves.