Cape Town – Logistical arrangements for the fifth Brics Summit to be hosted in South Africa next month are at an advanced stage, International Relations Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane said on Monday.
Speaking ahead of a meeting with her Chinese counterpart Yang Jiechi and his delegation in Cape Town, Nkoana-Mashabane said several “events” in 2013 would help cement relations between the two countries.
“The next big celebration for us is to receive the incoming leader, your excellency, the brand-new president [of China] on a historic visit to the first Brics summit on African soil on the 26th and 27th of March,” said Nkoana-Mashabane.
President-designate Xi Jinping is set to attend the summit, as one of his first visits abroad, after the new Chinese government is constituted in early March.
Nkoana-Mashabane paid tribute to outgoing President Hu Jintao, who she said had done “so much” for bilateral relations between South Africa and China.
“During his tenure we have seen relations between South Africa and China being elevated from just having good friendship of having signed all the important agreements to taking our partnerships to the highest level of signing the comprehensive strategic partnership treaty,” she said.
Yang said his visit was part of preparations for Xi’s upcoming visit to South Africa during the Brics summit.
He said China was excited about deepening relations with South Africa.
“In the last 15 years or so our relationship has developed on so many different fronts; political, economic, social, education and so on and both sides have benefited a great deal from this relationship,” said Yang.
South Africa was also a very important gateway into the rest of Africa.
“We ought to work harder for the interests of our two people and for the interests of the developing world, and for mankind as well,” said Yang.
There was a drive to boost economic co-operation with South Africa, as trade between the two countries continued to increase.
“The annual trade volume has reached almost $60bn and there’s mutual investment, creating jobs.
“Our economies are highly complementary to each other.”
The fifth Brics summit will be hosted at the iNkosi Albert Luthuli International Convention Centre in Durban.
Brics is an economic bloc representing five of the world’s leading emerging economies, namely Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa.