Pretoria – Chinese Ambassador to South Africa Chen Xiaodong was joined by several government officials, including former president Kgalema Motlanthe, as he hosted the Chinese New Year celebrations, during annual festivities also known as the Spring Festival.
Guests at the event included Motlanthe; Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga; Social Development Minister Lindiwe Zulu; Communications and Digital Technologies Minister Khumbudzo Ntshavheni; Small Business Development Minister Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams; and Minister in the Presidency for Women, Youth and Persons with Disabilities, Maite Nkoana-Mashabane.
Hundreds of other guests included the academia, diplomats, media, learners and politicians.
In his keynote address, the Chinese diplomat said his country is ready to work with South Africa to implement the important consensus between the two heads of state, to further enhance mutual trust, deepen pragmatic co-operation, promote people-to-people links, and jointly safeguard multilateralism and international justice.
“As we bid a joyful farewell to an amazing Year of the Tiger, let us together celebrate the upcoming Year of the Rabbit. In a few days, we will observe the Chinese New Year together. This is the most important traditional festival for the Chinese people,” said Chen.
“President (Cyril) Ramaphosa also found time to write a letter of Chinese New Year wishes for all of us. His inspiring remarks gave us much strength and warmth.
“On behalf of the Chinese Embassy in South Africa and the Chinese community here, I want to express our sincere appreciation to President Ramaphosa and extend a warm welcome to all our South African distinguished guests and friends who are with us today.”
The Chinese envoy also extended good wishes to members of the Chinese community, institutions, teachers and learners of Confucius Institutes and Chinese students studying in South Africa.
He appealed to the Chinese and South African communities to join hands and move forward together “to write a new and glorious chapter” of the China-South Africa community, with a shared future.
He added that the Chinese New Year is a time of celebration, joy, blessing and hope.
In the Chinese culture, the rabbit symbolises kindness, beauty and peace.
“As the Year of the Rabbit is approaching, let us raise our glasses to the prosperity, harmony and happiness of the People’s Republic of China and the Republic of South Africa. May China-South Africa and China-Africa co-operation flourish and achieve new glories,” Chen said.
“I wish all our friends the best of health and good luck in all endeavours. I wish all your families happiness and good fortune in the Year of the Rabbit.”
Trade volumes between South Africa and China in 2022 reached $56.7 billion, up by 5% “against headwinds” and reached a record high in recent years.
China has been South Africa’s largest trading partner for 14 years in a row and South Africa has been China’s largest trading partner in Africa for 13 years in a row.
“At the 5th China International Import Expo, South African companies delivered a great performance. They achieved an intended turnover of nearly $100 million, which is 1.5 times over last year,” said Chen.
“The investment co-operation between our two sides has also shown great momentum. Chinese companies have invested over $25 billion in South Africa and hundreds of Chinese firms took part in South Africa’s 4th Investment Conference,” he said.