China congratulates SA on the 28th anniversary of Freedom Day

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The Chinese government has sent out a congratulatory message to the office of President Cyril Ramaphosa as the country marks 28 years since the dawn of democracy on April 27, 1994.

The embassy of China in South Africa said in a statement: “On April 25, 2022, President Xi Jinping sent a message to South African President Cyril Ramaphosa, in which he extended warm congratulations and good wishes to the government and people of South Africa over the 28th Freedom Day of the country.”

In the message from Beijing to President Ramaphosa, President Xi wrote: “During the recent phone call between us, we forged consensus on matters including China-South Africa relationship and regional issues. I attach great importance to the development of China-South Africa relations, and stand ready to work with Your Excellency to strengthen communication and coordination between each other, deepen practical cooperation, firmly support each other on issues concerning each other’s core interests and major concerns, and safeguard the common interests of developing countries.”

Ties between Pretoria and Beijing have been growing exponentially since the beginning of the Ramaphosa Presidency.

The ambassador of China to SA, Chen Xiaodong, recently handed over a R1 million cheque as a donation to assist in the rebuilding efforts in KwaZulu-Natal following the recent floods. More than 450 people lost their lives and residential homes and road infrastructure were badly damaged to the tune running into billions of rands.

During the recent donation hand-over ceremony to Minister of Social Development Lindiwe Zulu that was held in Pretoria, Ambassador Chen said: “We will also make more funds and supplies available to the stricken area through various channels, including by mobilising Chinese enterprises and communities in South Africa.”

He added: “As we together confront the floods that are unseen in decades, the Chinese side is ready to provide assistance to your side within our capacity.”

The strong bilateral ties also manifest themselves within the framework of BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa).

Their cooperation in that forum has also transcended into other areas of multilateralism. During the recent voting patterns at the UN Security Council as well as the UN General Assembly on the Russia-Ukraine war, SA, China and India voted similarly – either abstaining or declining to endorse any resolution that condemned Russia in the war.

All BRICS members have continuously called for a negotiated outcome to the war that should also include discussions on NATO’s expansion to Russia’s borders, a concern Moscow has highlighted at every turn but outrightly rejected by the West.

During a telephone call between President Xi and President Ramaphosa a couple of weeks ago, the two leaders exchanged views on the situation in Ukraine. In a joint communique afterwards, they stated: “Both sides agree that China and South Africa hold a very similar position on the Ukraine issue, and that sovereign countries are entitled to independently decide on their own positions. Both sides support Russia and Ukraine in keeping the momentum of peace talks and settling disputes through dialogue and negotiations.”  The two leaders undertook to strengthen communication and coordination in this regard.

President Xi further stressed, as the BRICS chair this year: “China is ready to work with South Africa to maintain the development momentum of the BRICS cooperation mechanism, build a high-quality partnership that is more comprehensive, closer, more pragmatic and more inclusive, realize the development of member countries and promote more robust, greener and sounder global development. China stands ready to work with all the parties to uphold true multilateralism, stand for international fairness and justice, and safeguard the legitimate rights and common interests of emerging market economies and developing countries, so as to actively contribute to the steady recovery of the world economy and promote the building of a community with a shared future for mankind.”

In response, President Ramaphosa said: “I would like to extend once again my wishes to the centenary of the Communist Party of China and congratulate China on the successful Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games Beijing 2022.” He continued: “China is a reliable and true partner and friend of South Africa and other African countries, and I would like to thank China for sticking to a fair position and providing valuable assistance for South Africa and other African countries to help us jointly overcome difficulties.”

President Ramaphosa also made a veiled reference to the geopolitical hot-potato that is the future of Taiwan. He said: “South Africa firmly adheres to the one-China principle and steadfastly supports China’s stance on the issue related to Xizang and other major issues.”

He concluded: “At this difficult time for the world, South Africa hopes to maintain close contact with China, consolidate friendship, carry forward the two countries’ good tradition of mutual support and mutual assistance, and deepen South Africa-China practical cooperation in various fields as well as Africa-China comprehensive strategic cooperation.  Freedom Day is a public holiday in South Africa and at all its missions abroad and is celebrated on the 27 April, the day on which first all-race inclusive democratic elections were held and Nelson Mandela became the first president of post-apartheid South Africa. It was Mandela’s administration that first adopted the one-China policy.