‘Historic starting point’: China’s Xi, S. Africa’s Ramaphosa agree to deepen ties

‘Historic starting point’: China’s Xi, S. Africa’s Ramaphosa agree to deepen ties

2 leaders also discuss ongoing Russia-Ukraine war, say dialogue best option to end conflict

By Hassan Isilow and Riyaz ul Khaliq

JOHANNESBURG/ISTANBUL (AA) – South African President Cyril Ramaphosa and his visiting Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping on Tuesday agreed to deepen bilateral relations as the latter said the two nations were “standing at a new historical starting point.”

Xi arrived in South Africa late Monday for a state visit and to attend the 15th BRICS Summit in Johannesburg which is set to begin Tuesday afternoon until Thursday.

“South Africa is truly honored to have received Xi Jinping. It was an absolute joy for me to meet him as he disembarked from the plane,” Ramaphosa said at a media briefing shortly after their bilateral meetings.

This year, China and South Africa mark 25 years of their diplomatic relations.

The two leaders also discussed the ongoing Russia-Ukraine war and agreed that dialogue was the best option to end the conflict.

They also agreed that BRICS should play a more global role.

The BRICS currently comprises five countries – Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa – and expansion of the group is expected to be high on the agenda.

Speaking in Chinese, Xi said China supports South Africa in playing a strategic role on international stages.

He said the two countries need to continue to support each other “on issues where they share common interests.”

“The relationship between the people of South Africa and China stretches back many decades. We recall with deep gratitude the support of the Chinese people for our struggle for freedom and democracy,” said the South African president.

- 'Valued partnership'

Ramaphosa said China has been a valued friend and developmental partner of South Africa throughout the course of rebuilding the country from the ruins of apartheid.

Addressing Ramaphosa, the Chinese president said: “Standing at a new historical starting point, inheriting the China-South Africa friendship, deepening cooperation and strengthening collaboration are mutual wishes of both countries and also the significant responsibility of our times.”

Xi said he was “willing to work alongside” his South African counterpart to “push the China-South Africa partnership into new heights.”

“Under the leadership of President Ramaphosa,” Xi said, according to a transcript released by Beijing-based Global Times, “South Africa enjoys a growing national building and international influence.”

“China is pleased about this and wishes South Africa even greater progress on its development path,” Xi told Ramaphosa as the trip marked the Chinese president's second official visit out of China this year after he paid a state visit to Russia in March.

The two leaders also witnessed the signing of several cooperation agreements.

According to China’s General Administration of Customs (GAC), Beijing’s trade with BRICS countries soared 19.1% in the first seven months of the current year, totaling around 2.38 trillion yuan (about $326.85 billion).

This accounts for 10.1% of China's total foreign trade value during the January-July period.

Xi will also co-chair with Ramaphosa the China-Africa Leaders’ Dialogue in the South African capital on Wednesday.

This will be the first face-to-face summit since the end of the COVID-19 pandemic.

China's trade with African nations surged last year to $282 billion, with Beijing importing goods and services from the continent for around $117.51 billion.

South Africa is the biggest exporter among African nations to China.

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