SA-China exchange programme cements cultural ties

Friday, April 21, 2017

Pretoria - South Africa will host the inaugural session of the South Africa-China High Level People-to-People Exchange Mechanism (PPEM).

The session, which starts on Monday, 24 April, will be co-chaired by Arts and Culture Minister Nathi Mthethwa and Chinese Vice Premier Madame Liu Yandong.

In a statement on Thursday, Minister Mthethwa said the PPEM will turn a new leaf and chapter in of the relations between the two countries.

The PPEM serves to enhance mutual trust, friendship and strategic partnership and to further deepen cooperation between the two countries, especially in the areas of culture, education, communications, health, technology, sports, tourism, women advancement and youth.

“Our objective is to create spaces and opportunities to contribute to the knowledge and common understanding between South Africa and China through enhancing contact.

“This exchange is aimed at providing a forum for exchanging information and identifying common objectives and strategies in the broad field of people-to-people exchange. This mechanism serves further to identify opportunities for cooperation based on mutual interest and benefit,” Minister Mthethwa said.

On a practical level, Minister Mthethwa said they will create opportunities for people in both countries to benefit from the sharing of social, cultural and economic capital across government, academia, business and civil society.

The establishment of the PPEM forms part of the implementation of the recommendations made after the December 2015 State visit, which saw the signing of the Comprehensive Strategic Partnership by President Xi Jinping and President Jacob Zuma.

The PPEM is set to involve other departments such as International Relations and Corporation, Basic Education, Higher Education and Training, Science and Technology, Health, Communications, Sports and Recreation, Tourism, the Minister in the Presidency responsible for Women and the Deputy Minister in the Presidency (Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation).

The PPEM will commence with an inaugural meeting at the Department of International Relations and Cooperation’s OR Tambo Building.

At this meeting, there will be presentations of progress reports by both countries on the selected thematic areas. 

According to Minister Mthethwa, a range of cooperation agreements will be signed across a number of areas falling within the two broad themes driving this mechanism – the pursuit of Human Capital Development objectives and projects, as well as Research and Development opportunities.

There will also be increased focus on and investment in research, development and innovation have become a cornerstone of major emerging economies.

Exchange week events

On Monday, there will be the China-Africa Health Ministers Conference, wherein 30 Ministers from the Forum of China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) Member States will participate and look at ways to improve the livelihoods of the peoples of Africa.

South Africa will be represented by Health Minister Dr Aaron Motsoaledi, while Minister Li will represent China.

Later on the day, Vice Premier Liu and Minister Li will conduct a special visit to the Steve Biko Academic Hospital to donate medical equipment, which have all been sourced from South Africa.

The exchange programme will also see the launch of the South Africa-China Science Park Cooperation, which will take place at the CSIR International Convention Centre.

These Science and Technology Parks and other initiatives, including technology incubators, will help stimulate and support innovation for socio-economic development.

On Tuesday, there will be a high level seminar on Thought Exchanges and Dialogue in Pretoria, followed by a visit to the Cradle of Humankind World Heritage Site and a joint cultural evening at the State Theatre.

The Second Africa–China Youth Festival will take place on Wednesday, 26 April in Pretoria, where dialogues are planned amongst youth entrepreneurs, youth diplomats and youth academics.

South Africa and China share a common developmental agenda based on the principle of internationalism and enjoy strong diplomatic and trade relations.

China is South Africa's biggest trading partner and also the second biggest economy in the world.

The two countries share membership of and participate as partners in numerous international bodies, including BRICS, the Group of 77 + China, G20 and are co-chairs of FOCAC.

South Africa’s bilateral relations with China are guided broadly through mechanisms such as the Beijing Declaration establishing the Comprehensive Strategic Partnership, the Bi-National Commission, Joint Inter-Ministerial Working Group on Cooperation (JWG), Strategic Dialogue Mechanism, and the 5-10 Year Strategic Framework on Cooperation signed in 2014. –   

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