Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi on Tuesday reiterated his country’s commitment to helping support industrialization and public health projects in Africa. “At this year’s meeting of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC), we will increase cooperation on industrialization,” Wang told a joint press conference held with South African International Relations Minister Maite Nkoana Mashabane.He said China would work with Africa to build fast trains, road networks and other infrastructure. China’s top diplomat also said they would look at technological transfers by which professionals would be exchanged to transfer technological know-how. Wang added that China would continue to work with African governments on improving the public health sector.
“When the Ebola virus broke out, China was one of the countries that helped Africa,” he said through an interpreter. The minister asserted that China currently had more than 1,000 medical personnel assisting in over 40 African countries. Wang said his government’s response to the Ebola outbreak had shown its readiness to assist Africa in hard times.
“We hope to use our advantages to help Africa improve its public health system,” he said. The diplomat asserted that the FOCAC summit, to be held in South Africa later this year, would address ways to help Africa establish peace and stability on the continent.
Mashabane, for her part, said the meeting gave both sides the opportunity to reflect on bilateral relations. She said they had agreed that the bilateral relationship should not just remain at the government level, but should be maintained at the people-to-people level so as to benefit the people of both countries.
“China will continue to play a pivotal role in South Africa’s re-industrialization and developmental agenda going forward; and [it will] continue to be a strategic partner for South Africa on a bilateral and multilateral level,” asserted the minister. She said that since the establishment of diplomatic relations between South Africa and China in 1998, the bilateral relationship had grown significantly.
The two countries signed a program aimed at deepening the strategic partnership in 2006, and signed the Beijing Declaration on the Establishment of a Comprehensive Strategic Partnership in 2010. Mashabane said their discussions on Tuesday had focused on the implementation of the strategic framework on cooperation signed during President Jacob Zuma’s recent visit to China.
“We also discussed specific areas of economic cooperation,” she added. The minister said trade relations between the two countries continued to grow, noting that South African trade exports to China in 2014 amounted to about 94 billion rand.
“South African imports from China in 2014, meanwhile, amounted to about 167 billion rand,” she added. “Our two governments are working very hard together to address the negative trade deficit and to ultimately attain a more equitable and mutual trade balance that will be beneficial for further development of two countries,” said Mashabane.
The minister added that South Africa was in the final stages of ratifying the establishment of the BRICS development bank. “We discussed preparations for the establishment of the BRICS New Development Bank, as well as the Africa Regional Center. We are satisfied with the various stages of preparation,” she told reporters.
The BRICS bloc includes Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa. The bank will fund developmental projects in member states without depending on traditional lending institutions like the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
tPublished: 15 April 2015. By The Journal of Turkish Weekly
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