SA, China strengthen cultural ties

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Pretoria - The People's Republic of China is planning to set up its Chinese Cultural Centre in South Africa as an exchange platform for cultural development with South Africa.

Chinese Vice Minister of Culture, Zhao Shaohua, made the announcement shortly before signing a programme of Cooperation with acting Arts and Culture Minister, Tokyo Sexwale, in Pretoria on Tuesday.

"The cultural relations between South Africa and China are flourishing. Culture knows no boundaries, and I was impressed by the dance of South African cultural groups during our Shanghai World Expo last year.

"To further cement our cultural relations, we will be establishing the Chinese Cultural Centre in South Africa very soon make the public aware of Chinese culture, as well as making greater contributions to China-South Africa cultural relations.

"We both have a very long history and we believe that through this Cultural Centre, we exchange our cultural diversity," Shaohua said.

Shaohua, who was speaking via a translator, also pledged 300 000 Chinese Yuan to develop cultural activities in South Africa, but did not give a time frame as to when this will happen.

Sexwale said the agreement also looked at the possibilities of translation of Chinese books into South African languages and South African languages into the Chinese language.

"This agreement will go a long way in extended our cultural relations in arts, film, books, language and culture as well as exhibition of our cultural dancers together.

"Through my observation, I've learnt that most foreign countries, including Germany and France, have language institutes in South Africa, so I want to propose that you set up your Chinese language institute as well," said Sexwale.

The Human Settlements Minister, who also described China as the second biggest economic powerhouse in the world, said through the agreement, they will encourage their artists to visits each other.

Bilateral relations between South Africa and the People's Republic of China reached a new high point in 2009/10.

By the end of 2009, the Department of Trade and Industry announced that China had become South Africa's largest trading partner, with total trade amounting to approximately R120 billion.

During the state visit by President Jacob Zuma to China last year, companies and organisations from China and South Africa signed over a dozen cooperative documents at a business forum.

The documents involve projects in areas such as solar power, mining, telecommunications, insurance and finance.

A 240 million euro (about $300 million) loan agreement between South African mobile phone operator Cell C and China Development Bank was included in the deals.

The announcements also included the acquisition by South Africa's Discovery Health of a stake in Ping An Health Insurance, a subsidiary of China's second largest Insurer, the Ping An Insurance Group.

December 2007 marked 10 years since the official establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries.