China to expand co-operation in people-to-people exchanges
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Part 3 of a 3-part series interview by the African News Agency with His Excellency, Ambassador-designate of China to South Africa, Chen Xiaodong.
Q: One of the challenges facing South Africa-China relations is that despite the close political exchanges and economic cooperation between our two countries, the mutual understanding between our two peoples is still far from enough and sometimes there are even misunderstandings between us. How will you promote the cultural and people-to-people exchanges between our two countries and help the Chinese communities, enterprises and students in South Africa to integrate into the local community during your tenure?
A: People-to-people amity holds the key to state-to-state relations. China and South Africa have maintained close cultural and people-to-people exchanges. We have established the first high-level people-to-people exchange mechanism between China and African countries. We have held the Year of China and the Year of South Africa in each other’s countries for the first time in the history of China-Africa relations. South Africa has attracted more Chinese tourists and established sister relations with more Chinese provinces and cities than any other Sub-Saharan African country. China has become an increasingly popular destination for South African students and tourists.
Since the outbreak of Covid-19, the Chinese communities in South Africa have made cash and in-kind donations to support South Africa’s pandemic response, which has been widely acclaimed by the South African government and people from all walks of life. This speaks volumes about the profound friendship between our two peoples in trying times and has played an important role in enhancing the mutual understanding between our two peoples.
Going forward, we will continue to implement the Eight Major Initiatives proposed at the FOCAC Beijing Summit and strengthen our exchanges and cooperation in such fields as economy, society, culture, medicine, public health, youth and women, so as to translate the people-to-people exchanges into a strong driving force for the growth of our relations.
First, China and South Africa shall expand practical cooperation in the field of people-to-people exchanges. We will continue to promote educational exchanges and cooperation between China and South Africa. we will strengthen the exchanges between Chinese and South African universities and young students through providing scholarships and training opportunities, so as to enhance the mutual understanding and friendship between the young generations of our two countries.
We shall expand tourism cooperation and encourage more people to travel to each other’s countries, so as to promote the economic development of our two countries and bring our two people closer. We will also build more platforms for exchanges and cooperation between the media and think tanks of our two countries so as to enable our two peoples to know more about each other’s countries.
Second, China and South Africa shall continue to strengthen ideas and cultural exchanges. Africa is the cradle of human civilization, while China is one of the world’s four ancient civilizations. Our two sides share the same or similar values, including the respect for ancestors, family and community. There are many similarities between Africa’s Ubuntu philosophy and the vision of building a community with a shared future for mankind proposed by President Xi Jinping.
We will encourage the think tanks, universities, and the cultural institutions from our two countries to hold more forums, seminars, and art and cultural exhibitions. We will continue to host events such as BRICS film festival, cultural festival and “Happy Chinese New Year”, so as to bring more African cultural elements to China, promote the mutual learning and common development of our cultures, and provide more intellectual support for building a closer China-South Africa and China-Africa community with a shared future.
Third, we will encourage Chinese communities to better integrate into local communities. The Chinese communities, enterprises and students in South Africa have all made important contributions to the development of this beautiful rainbow nation with their concrete actions and dedication. We will continue to support and encourage them to abide by local laws, respect local cultural traditions, religious beliefs and ethnic customs, and make friends with local communities. We will encourage them to participate in and promote the friendly and mutually beneficial cooperation between China and South Africa in various fields, earnestly fulfill their social responsibilities to benefit the local communities, and contribute to the social development of South Africa with their own development.
Q: During the fight against the pandemic, both South Africa and China firmly uphold multilateralism and support the core leading role played by the WHO. How do you view the cooperation between China and South Africa under such multilateral frameworks as the FOCAC, the African Union, BRICS, G20, and the United Nations? How will our two sides advance our coordination and cooperation in multilateral affairs?
A: As the only African member of the BRICS and G20, as well as the rotating Chair of the African Union and a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council this year, South Africa has an important role to play in regional and global ffairs. As two important developing countries and emerging markets, China and South Africa share the same or similar views on development, security, and international order, and have broad consensus on major international and regional issues. We have maintained close coordination, and carried out fruitful cooperation under such multilateral mechanisms as the UN, G20, BRICS and FOCAC.
This year marks the 20th anniversary of FOCAC. China and South Africa co-hosted the 2015 Johannesburg Summit and the 2018 Beijing Summit. Our two countries have worked for the follow-up implementation of China-Africa “Ten Cooperation Plans” and “Eight Major Initiatives”, and made important contributions to the development of the FOCAC. Not long ago, President Xi Jinping and President Ramaphosa co-hosted the Extraordinary China-Africa Summit on Solidarity Against Covid-19, which has played an important role in promoting China-Africa anti-pandemic cooperation and building a stronger China-Africa community with a shared future.
With regard to BRICS cooperation, China and South Africa respectively hosted the 2017 BRICS Xiamen Summit and the 2018 Johannesburg Summit. Our two countries are committed to promoting the solidarity, cooperation and innovation-driven development of the BRICS members. In the spirit of openness, inclusiveness and win-win cooperation, we have jointly ushered in the second “Golden Decade” of BRICS cooperation.
Both China and South Africa support the G20 in strengthening global economic governance and promoting world economic development. We support the implementation of the G20’s Debt Service Suspension Initiative (DSSI).
Since the outbreak of the pandemic, China and South Africa have firmly upheld multilateralism, supported the WHO in playing a positive role in global Covid-19 response, and jointly promoted the international community to strengthen solidarity and cooperation to fight against the pandemic. During the 75th UN General Assembly and the Extraordinary China-Africa Summit on Solidarity Against Covid-19, both China and South Africa stood for upholding multilateralism, opposing unilateralism and protectionism, and giving full play to the core role played by the United Nations so as to build a community with a shared future for mankind.
At this critical juncture bearing on the future of the world, China is willing to work with South Africa to strengthen communication and coordination in multilateral affairs, safeguard the UN-centered international system, the international order based on international law and the WTO-centered multilateral trading regime.
We shall step up our cooperation under the framework of BRICS, G20 and FOCAC, and respect and accommodate each other’s core interests and concerns in international and regional affairs including climate change, poverty reduction, human rights and South-South cooperation. In doing so, we will jointly advance the reform of global governance system, and safeguard the interests of developing countries, so as to achieve win-win cooperation for common development.