Chinese President Xi Jinping To Pay State Visit to South Africa, Overlapping BRICS Summit
Aug. 8, 2023, 2022 (EIRNS)—Chinese President Xi Jinping will pay a state visit to South Africa on Aug. 22, with talks in Pretoria with South African President Cyril Ramaphosa. The visit coincide with Johannesburg BRICS summit on Aug. 22-24 BRICS. President Ramaphosa’s office said Aug. 7 that the talks will strengthen bilateral ties, and that memoranda of agreement will be signed.
The state visit comes at a strategic time for both South Africa-China relations and for the efforts of BRICS, which is working to establish a world economic and financial system that will set up new, non-dollar-denominated trade; expand instruments for investment, such as the New Development Bank; and contribute to the development of Africa.
China is South Africa’s largest trading partner. In 2021, China’s exports to South Africa totalled $20.6 billion while China’s imports from South Africa stood at $32.54 billion. Their two-way trade is larger than the trade between the U.S. and several Ibero-American nations. Significant Chinese firms’ investments in South Africa include the China First Automotive assembly plant in Coega Industrial Park; a Hisense Group white goods factory producing large consumer products; and a Hebei Jidong Development Group cement plant.
South Africa is seeking China’s aid in upgrading Eskom, the state-run electricity generating system, and for mining skills and investment. South Africa has the world’s largest reserves of the platinum-group metals. In 2019, South Africa launched a national platinum strategy which aims to create a million jobs and contribute the equivalent of $441 billion to South Africa’s economy by 2050.
China and South Africa can employ the development of South Africa as a lever for developing the entire continent.
Xi has maintained close personal relations with South Africa since he became President in 2013. His first visit was in March 2013, meeting then-President Jacob Zuma and also attending the BRICS summit. This was followed by a state visit in December 2015, and the third in July 2018, when again South Africa hosted the BRICS summit.
Recall that on July 28, South African President Ramaphosa and some cabinet members held a warm and productive meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin, during the Russia-Africa Summit in St. Petersburg.