Speech by the Chinese Consul General Mr. Liu Yantao at the
Reception of the 61st Anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China
ICC Durban 23/9/2009
Your Honourable MEC Mrs Johnson,
Your Honourable Director General Mr Ngidi,
Your Honourable the Deputy Mayor Mr Naidoo,
Your Honourable Judge President Msimang,
Dear colleagues from Durban Consular Corps,
Dear overseas Chinese compatriots,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Today, we hold a grand celebration to mark the 61st anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China. On behalf of the Chinese Consulate General in Durban, I hereby send warm congratulations to all patriotic compatriots in KwaZulu-Natal, and express heartfelt thanks to all the friends in South Africa and from other countries who care about and support China's socialist modernization cause.
With the coming of the second decade of the 21st century, New China is joyously celebrating her 61st birthday. During the past 61 years, especially the 32 years since China adopted the policy of reform and opening up in 1978, profound historic changes have taken place in Chinese social and economic physiognomy.
Chinese economy grows fast. The GDP of 2009 increased to 5 trillion US dollars from about 200 billion US dollars of 1978. In recent years, Chinese GDP has grown at double-digit rates, and increased by 9.1% last year despite of the impact of global financial crisis. In the first half of this year, the GDP reached 2.5 trillion US dollars, an 11.1% year-on-year growth. The fast growth of Chinese economy has not only improved the quality of people's life but also made important contributions to world economic recovery.
Continuous progress has been made in Chinese political reform and democratization: "People Foremost" as ruling concept has got popular support and direct elections are gradually extended. Chinese citizens' freedom rights are being widened and safeguarded by law, China has also acceded to International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
China is enjoying social stability and harmony among ethnic groups with its people living and working in peace and contentment. Education level of young people is constantly rising and facilities for sports and culture are steadily improving. Chinese people are leading a rich cultural life as internet is prevailing across the country and the netizens total more than 400 million.
Relations across Taiwan Straits have made new breakthroughs. This year, people across the Straits realized their long-expected "Three Links" and signed practical Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement, i.e. ECFA and increased mutual trust and cooperation in many sections, thus turning over a new leaf in the Cross-Straits.
Meanwhile, China interacts positively with outside world and follows a path of peaceful development. China pursues an independent foreign policy of peace and initiates the concept of building a Harmonious World. With the growth of its national strength China is willing to undertake more international obligations. China is yearning to know more of the world and also wishes to be known and understood by the world. Subsequent to the success of 2008 Beijing Olympics, Shanghai is hosting the World Expo this year. Owing to Chinese people's hard work and hospitality, the Shanghai World Expo becomes an unprecedented grand meeting. It has attracted the largest number of participants and visitors which total more than 50 million up to now.
We're clearly aware of the fact that China is still a developing country at the primary stage of socialism in spite of the above-mentioned achievements. At present, China's overall development level of productivity is still not high. Its per capita GDP is 3600 US dollars only, half of that of South Africa, and ranks about 100th in the world. China has an apparent dual economic structure. 700 million out of 1.3 billion people are living in rural areas. Chinese urbanization rate is 46.6%, lower than that of the world average of 50%. Different regions of China develop quite unevenly. The eastern coastal areas of China develop much faster than the western or remote regions. According to the United Nations' standard, there are still 150 million impoverished people in China, three times the total population of South Africa, and most of them live in the backward central and western areas. China's economic structure is fairly irrational for its industry and agriculture account for sixty percent of GDP. While the traditional technology and industry of low added value dominate Chinese national economy, scientific technology contributes less to GDP. The mainly extensive way of economic growth paid heavy price in resource conservation and environment protection. In this respect, China has a long way to go. China also needs to further improve its political democratization and rule of law.
At the same time, China often suffers from natural disasters. This year we were struck by earthquake in Qinghai Province and floods both in southern and northern parts of China. These disasters caused heavy casualties and losses. In the face of various difficulties and challenges, Chinese government fully implement the scientific concept of development and transform the economic development pattern. Chinese government also puts an emphasis upon the balanced and sustainable development between economy, society and ecology, and upon the building of people oriented harmonious society. All these propositions are widely supported and praised by Chinese people.
During the 12 years since China and South Africa established diplomatic relations, the two countries have enjoyed friendly atmosphere of political equality and mutual trust, economic win-win cooperation and cultural exchange and mutual-reference, and of the strategic partnership based on Equality, Mutual Benefit and Common Development. Not only is the economic and trade cooperation expanding, but also the exchange on science and technology, culture and education is very active. In the first half of this year, the total volume of trade between China and South Africa reached 10.8 billion US dollars, a 56% year-on-year growth. China remains the biggest trade partner of South Africa and becomes the main export destination country for South Africa.
It deserves to be noted that President Zuma paid a successful state visit to China just one month ago. China and South Africa signed the milestone Beijing Declaration which elevates the two countries to comprehensive strategic partnership, and other agreements or memorandum concerning energy, minerals, environment management, railway cooperation and mutual exemption of visa requirement. The relationship of the two countries rises to a new level. In the fourth quarter of this year, Chinese Vice-President Xi Jinping will pay an official visit to South Africa to further carry out the programs of comprehensive strategic partnership. Bilateral relationship between South Africa and China will usher in a new period full of chance for grand development.
Furthermore, China and South Africa have been strengthening cooperation in international affairs. They shared common or similar views and conducted good coordination on many multilateral topics of general interest in G20 and UN. As members of BaSIC, China and South Africa made special contributions to the success of the negotiations on climate change in G20. China also supports South Africa's effort to join BRICs so that it could play a bigger role in international affairs.
Two great happy events took place this year respectively in South Africa and China. One is the FIFA World Cup in South Africa, and the other is the Shanghai World Expo in China. The two grand meetings connect South Africa and China more closely. The success of the World Cup has brought South Africa a lot of development opportunities and the trust from the world. Now Chinese people have a better understanding of South Africa and a new round of "South Africa Fever" is spreading all over China with the success of World Cup and the promotion series of South African Pavilion in Shanghai World Expo. As a friend of South African people I'm proud of you. I would like to convey to South Africa my heartfelt congratulations on its successful World Cup.
In 2010, the friendship and cooperation continuously develop between KwaZulu-Natal and its Chinese counterparts. Up till now, KwaZulu-Natal and cities in its area have been twinned with seven Chinese provinces or municipalities, and Durban Harbour and Chinese Guangzhou Harbour has formed sister harbours. On the basis of the aforementioned sister cities, KwaZulu-Natal and its Chinese counterparts are developing and expanding exchanges and cooperation. In July of this year, Premier Mkhize paid a friendly visit to Shanghai, and the Cedara Mushroom Base launched by South Africa and China was completed after two years' construction. The Mushroom Project has created several thousand jobs and benefited thousands of families. Besides cooperation on economy, trade and agriculture, the exchange in education and culture between KwaZulu-Natal and Chinese counterparts gradually turns into the spotlight. The scholarship project provided by Shanghai Municipality is in progress. The Chinese Classroom has been well received in Westville Boys' High. Chinese Jiangnan University delegation held an academic seminar and signed a collaboration memorandum with Durban University of Technology when it visited KwaZulu-Natal in this August. Next month, an education delegation from Haidian District of Beijing will visit KwaZulu-Natal and make education exchange with relevant departments and schools. At the same time, more and more people from KwaZulu –Natal visited China this year.
2010 is an extraordinary year. South Africa and China have both made great achievements and their relations have developed greatly. We're glad to see that the government of South Africa took a package of effective measures to recover its economy when the financial crisis has not yet completely ended. The GDP of South Africa keeps increasing by 3% this year. In order to ensure a sound and rapid economic transition and create more jobs, South African government gives a top priority to education, health, employment, rural development and cracking down on crimes. Premier Mhkize of KwaZulu-Natal put forward a strategy of focusing on agriculture and tourism to create more jobs and push forward GDP growth. The above-mentioned measures and strategy will give renewed impetus to South African economic and social development as well as that of KwaZulu-Natal. I sincerely hope that South Africa will make greater achievements in every field.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
South Africa and China have entered a new era of comprehensive strategic partnership. Let us seize this good opportunity and join hands to further promote the traditional friendship and all-round exchange and cooperation between South Africa and China.
Yesterday was Chinese traditional Mid-autumn Festival. In China, old saying goes that "The moon turns perfect round on the day after Mid-autumn day". Mid-autumn Festival is a day of family reunion. Mainland, Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan are members of a big family of Chinese nation. China, South Africa and even the whole world are all a big family of solidarity and friendship. I wish each and everyone a happy Mid-autumn Festival. Now may I propose a toast:
To the 61st anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China,
To the friendship and cooperation between the two peoples of China and South Africa,
And To the health and happiness of all our guests and friends,