From August 21 to 24, 2023, President Xi Jinping, upon invitation, attended the 15th BRICS Summit in Johannesburg, South Africa and paid a state visit to South Africa. As the visit came to an end, Member of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee and Foreign Minister Wang Yi briefed the accompanying journalists on the visit.
Wang Yi said, in the early days of autumn, President Xi Jinping went to South Africa, the "rainbow nation", to attend the BRICS Summit and pay a state visit to the country. This is not only a cordial and friendly bilateral visit, but also a multilateral trip that attracted worldwide attention. This visit, with a focus on South Africa and the BRICS and a perspective encompassing Africa and the world, inherited the traditional friendship between China and Africa, gathered new consensus on South-South cooperation and added positive energy for global peace and development. This visit has received extensive attention and coverage from both domestic and international media. It is widely believed that this visit is of strategic significance. This visit also reflects the significant progress made by emerging markets and developing countries in their efforts to build an equitable and reasonable system of global governance.
I. Strategic mutual trust between China and South Africa reaches a new height
Wang Yi said that this year marks the 25th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and South Africa. Over the past 25 years, China-South Africa relations have achieved leapfrog development with continuously enhanced political mutual trust, comprehensive advancement of practical cooperation and increasingly closer multilateral coordination. This visit is President Xi Jinping's fourth state visit to South Africa as Chinese President, and it is the sole state visit scheduled by South Africa on the sidelines of the BRICS Summit. President Matamela Cyril Ramaphosa attached great importance to this visit, received President Xi Jinping with premium courtesy, and personally greeted him at the airport late at night. President Ramaphosa also held a grand welcoming ceremony at the Union Buildings and bestowed on President Xi Jinping the Order of South Africa, the highest medal and honor of South Africa for the heads of state of friendly countries.
President Xi Jinping had a long and in-depth communication with President Ramaphosa, comprehensively summarizing the development experience of China-South Africa relations and drawing a blueprint for future development. President Xi Jinping pointed out that the key to the strong relations and deep friendship between China and South Africa lies in the fact that the two sides have stood together through thick and thin in their respective pursuit of development and forged deep bonds of "comrades-plus-brothers" friendship. China is willing to work with South Africa to be strategic partners with a high degree of mutual trust, development partners making progress together, friendly partners enjoying mutual understanding, and global partners with a commitment to justice, and jointly build a high-level China-South Africa community with a shared future. President Ramaphosa spoke highly of the great development achievements made by the Chinese people under the leadership of the Communist Party of China. He thanked China for giving precious support to South Africa during its struggles for national independence and emancipation and in its pursuit of national development, as well as much-needed assistance in difficult times such as during the COVID-19 pandemic, saying that China is a sincere brother, friend and partner of South Africa. Noting that China's investment and cooperation are vital to promoting South Africa's economic and social development as well as the development and prosperity of African countries and the Global South countries, he expressed the hope to step up cooperation with China in various fields to achieve common development and prosperity. The two heads of state reiterated their commitment to continuously supporting each other on issues involving respective core interests and major concerns and pushing for greater development of the China-South Africa comprehensive strategic partnership in the new era.
The visit has yielded fruitful results. The two sides issued a joint statement and the two heads of state witnessed the signing of multiple bilateral cooperation documents on Belt and Road cooperation, new energy power, agricultural product, special economic zone, industrial park, blue economy, scientific and technological innovation, higher education, and other fields. Before the visit, an economic and trade delegation made up of Chinese enterprises went to South Africa and signed substantial trade agreements. The faculty and students of the Confucius Institute at Durban University of Technology wrote President Xi Jinping a letter in Chinese, expressing their fondness for the Chinese culture and thanking China for the valuable opportunities provided to young Africans chasing their dreams. President Xi Jinping also replied to their letter, encouraging them to carry forward the traditional friendship between the two countries and make new contributions to enhancing China-South Africa and China-Africa cooperation. During the visit, the two sides decided to strengthen cooperation in vocational education and youth employment, among other fields, which will further strengthen the bond between the two peoples and provide solid public support and social foundation for the steady and sustained development of China-South Africa relations.
It is particularly noteworthy that this visit highlights the important common understandings and common interests between China and South Africa on major international issues. Ramaphosa thanked the Chinese side on many occasions for its full support to South Africa in successfully hosting the BRICS Summit under the current complex international situation, saying that South Africa and other Global South countries hope to strengthen solidarity and cooperation with China in the BRICS mechanism, the United Nations and other multilateral institutions, and jointly make global governance more equal, just and equitable. President Xi Jinping stressed that China supports South Africa in playing a greater role in international and regional affairs, and stands ready to work with South Africa and other developing countries to practice true multilateralism and safeguard the common interests and development space of developing countries. This indicates that under the strategic guidance of the two heads of state, the strategic mutual trust between China and South Africa has reached a new height and that China-South Africa relations have gone beyond the bilateral scope and bear increasingly important global significance. China and South Africa, as representatives of emerging economies and developing countries, are committed to building a high-level community with a shared future, which will continue to provide strong support for the building of a community with a shared future for mankind.
II. BRICS embarks on a new journey of membership expansion
After 17 years' development, BRICS countries, with a population accounting for over 40 percent of the global total and an economic aggregate accounting for a quarter of the world's total, have increasingly become a constructive force for promoting world economic growth, improving global governance, and advancing greater democracy in international relations. Amidst the current backdrop of global turbulence, transformation, and mounting risks and challenges, developing countries are experiencing a collective awakening, and their shared aspiration for seeking unity and progress and opposing external interference is growing stronger. Upholding the spirit of openness, inclusiveness and win-win cooperation, BRICS countries are committed to working for a multipolar world, and their role of being a positive and stable force for good in international affairs is becoming increasingly prominent. Against such a backdrop, an increasing number of developing countries are knocking on the door of the BRICS, applying to join the BRICS mechanism. More than 60 leaders from African countries and other emerging markets and developing countries enthusiastically accepted the invitation and gathered in South Africa this time, which fully reflects the strong appeal and influence of BRICS cooperation.
Wang Yi said that last year, as the rotating chair of BRICS, China overcame the difficulties of the pandemic, held more than 100 events covering more than 30 specific areas, and put forward a series of practical cooperation initiatives. In particular, building on the consensus, BRICS started the expansion process, and the BRICS mechanism ushered in major development opportunities. During the visit, President Xi Jinping attended the BRICS Summit and "BRICS Plus" activities, and delivered several important remarks, to continuously lead the momentum of BRICS development. President Xi Jinping pointed out that the world is undergoing accelerating changes unseen in a century, presenting both risks of division and confrontation and opportunities for solidarity and cooperation. The course of history will be shaped by the choices we make. BRICS is an important force in shaping the international landscape, and represents the direction of human society's progress. The modernization of the five countries, with 3.2 billion people, will profoundly alter the course of global development. President Xi Jinping stressed that BRICS countries need to stand at the forefront of the times, respond to the situation, keep breaking new ground, uphold independence, maintain unity and cooperation, pursue common development, uphold universal security, help reform global governance to make it more just and equitable, and safeguard the fundamental interests and development space of emerging markets and developing countries. President Xi Jinping's speech reflects the original aspiration of BRICS cooperation, highlights the nature of the BRICS mechanism, and reflects the shared aspiration of BRICS countries.
In response to the increasing number of countries applying to join BRICS, President Xi Jinping, with his far-sighted vision, profoundly pointed out that BRICS should not become a closed or inward-looking group. Instead, it should be an open and inclusive platform to accept new members and pool new strengths, which meets the realistic needs of BRICS development and serves the common interests of all BRICS countries. BRICS expansion has naturally come about and is imperative. The further the BRICS mechanism develops, the broader the space for cooperation will be, enabling it to play a greater role in safeguarding the legitimate rights and interests of developing countries. After repeated and in-depth communication among all parties, the BRICS Summit made a political decision to invite Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates, Argentina, Iran, and Ethiopia as new members to join BRICS. Other willing and qualified developing countries are also welcome to become BRICS partner countries. This is the biggest highlight of the BRICS Summit and a significant historic moment in the process of BRICS development. It follows the trend of historical development, resonates with the common aspirations of developing countries, and will vigorously promote the momentum of a multi-polar world and greater democracy in international relations, give a strong boost to a more just and equitable global political and economic governance system, and effectively increase the representation and say of emerging markets and developing countries in international affairs.
President Xi Jinping also proposed specific measures to strengthen pragmatic cooperation among BRICS countries. He announced that China will set up a China-BRICS Science and Innovation Incubation Park for the New Era and explore the establishment of a BRICS Global Remote Sensing Satellite Data and Application Cooperation Platform. He also said China is ready to work with all parties to jointly establish a BRICS Framework on Industrial Cooperation for Sustainable Development. Regarding the misguided practice of politicizing and weaponizing financial instruments by certain countries, the leaders of the five countries shared the view that BRICS countries should step up cooperation, promote necessary reforms in the international financial system, increase the voice of emerging markets and developing countries in the international financial system, and jointly guard against financial risks. They agreed that the New Development Bank should play an important role in this regard.
Wang Yi said that the BRICS cooperation mechanism, having been growing from strength to strength, is welcomed by the vast majority of countries. However, certain countries do not want to see its development. They cling to the Cold War mentality, downplay BRICS cooperation, and attempt to drive a wedge and sow discord. Under such circumstances, the BRICS Summit in Johannesburg was successfully convened, and BRICS took the historic stride toward membership expansion, sending out the clear message that BRICS countries and developing countries will seek cooperation in solidarity and forge ahead hand in hand. This has also effectively countered the noises and smear campaigns, and boosted the confidence and courage of the Global South countries to seek strength through unity. As a Chinese verse goes, "Green hills cannot stop the river flowing; to the vast ocean it keeps advancing." The vigorous development of the BRICS mechanism embodies an expansion of the South-South cooperation platforms, a growth of force for peace, an enlargement of the world's just front, and another important milestone in solidarity and cooperation among developing countries.
III. The building of a China-Africa community with a shared future has new dimensions
Wang Yi said that in 2013, President Xi Jinping, after assuming office as Chinese President, made his first visit to Africa, proposing the principle of sincerity, real results, affinity and good faith for China's Africa policy. Over the past 10 years, China has stayed committed to this principle. Together with African friends and drawing strength from the spirit of China-Africa friendship and cooperation, China has steadfastly pressed ahead on the path of solidarity and cooperation, stood for justice amid shifting global dynamics, and looked out for each other in face of the COVID-19 pandemic, so that the two sides have continuously deepened and substantiated China-Africa relations, and entered a new stage of jointly building a high-level China-Africa community with a shared future. President Xi Jinping, after 5 years, once again set foot on the African continent, proposing and jointly presiding over the China-Africa Leaders' Dialogue with President Matamela Cyril Ramaphosa, renewing friendship, promoting cooperation, and seeking development with African brothers, and jointly creating a bright future for China and Africa.
President Xi Jinping emphasized that there are various paths leading to modernization. The African people have the most say on which path suits Africa best. The promotion of integration is an independent choice made by African countries and people. On the path to modernization, China has been a firm supporter, and walking side by side with Africa. President Xi Jinping announced that China will launch the Initiative on Supporting Africa's Industrialization, and implement the Plan for China Supporting Africa's Agricultural Modernization and the Plan for China-Africa Cooperation on Talent Development. China plans to train 500 principals and high-caliber teachers of vocational colleges every year, and 10,000 technical personnel with both Chinese language and vocational skills for Africa. China will invite 20,000 government officials and technicians of African countries to participate in workshops and seminars. These three measures cover the fields urgently needed for Africa's modernization drive, and vividly demonstrate China's concrete actions to support Africa's development, which have been warmly welcomed by participating African leaders. Looking back to the 1960s and 1970s when China was facing considerable economic difficulties, it tightened its belt to build the Tanzania-Zambia Railway for African brothers. Today, facing African countries' urgent desire to realize modernization, China continues providing selfless assistance to them and is committed to being their companion in the process of development and revitalization of China and Africa. Through concrete actions, China has demonstrated its firm stance of standing together with African countries and showed its sincere aspirations to achieve common development and prosperity and to live better lives together with developing countries. The solid progress of African integration and the success of China's and Africa's respective modernization drives provide new impetus for world economic development, contribute positive energy to international fairness and justice, and set new benchmarks for an equal, open and cooperative global partnership.
President Xi Jinping, taking into account the intrinsic potential and external challenges of China-Africa cooperation, emphasized that through such platforms as Belt and Road cooperation and the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC), and in light of the African Union's Agenda 2063, China will work with Africa to enhance the synergy of development strategies. President Xi Jinping proposed that the two sides should work together to promote a just and equitable international order, work together to safeguard a peaceful and secure global environment, and work together to build an open and inclusive world economy, so as to create favorable external conditions for realizing their respective development visions. President Xi Jinping once again explicitly expressed support for the African Union's accession to the G20, fully reflecting China's support for Africa in elevating its international standing and enhancing its say, and China's earnest practice of the spirit of China-Africa friendship and cooperation on multilateral platforms. President Xi Jinping also announced that China will host the 9th FOCAC meeting next year. This will be another gathering of Chinese and African leaders in China following the 2018 Beijing Summit of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation, and another grand event of solidarity, friendship and victory between China and Africa.
The China-Africa Leaders' Dialogue was a friendly and warm one. All African leaders said that China's help and cooperation have effectively promoted the development and integration process of African countries. China is a true friend of Africa and a partner that Africa can count on in trying times. The African sides firmly pursue the one-China policy and firmly support the Global Development Initiative, the Global Security Initiative, and the Global Civilization Initiative proposed by President Xi Jinping, and will continue to actively advance high-quality Belt and Road cooperation. The joint statement issued at the dialogue embodies the extensive common understandings of both sides, charts a road map for the development of China-Africa relations in the new era, and makes the flower of China-Africa friendship shine with new brilliance. Facts have already proved and will continue to prove that the brotherhood between China and Africa, featuring sincerity, friendship and equality, will remain unchanged regardless of whatever adjustment the international landscape may witness. The spirit of coordination between China and Africa, featuring mutual understanding and common progress, will remain unchanged regardless of whatever changes the times may undergo. The firm will of China and Africa to weather the storm together and share weal and woe will remain unchanged regardless of whatever challenges they may face. The spirit of friendship and cooperation between China and Africa will definitely yield more fruitful outcomes in the new era and benefit the people of both China and Africa.
IV. Chinese modernization presents a new landscape
Wang Yi said that during this visit, President Xi Jinping had extensive interactions with leaders attending the BRICS summit, discussing governance experience and guiding the development of bilateral relations.
All parties paid close attention to the Chinese economy and Chinese modernization and were eager to know about China's development prospects and successful experience. President Xi Jinping addressed the BRICS Business Forum, outlining four distinct advantages of the development of the Chinese economy: a socialist market economy in systemic terms, a supersize market in terms of demand, a full-fledged industrial system in terms of supply, and abundant, high-caliber labor force and entrepreneurs in terms of human resources. He stressed that the Chinese economy has strong resilience, tremendous potential and great vitality, and China will remain an important opportunity for the world's development. President Xi Jinping expounded on the main characteristics and essential connotations of Chinese modernization, stressing that every country has the right to development, and the people in every country have the freedom to pursue a happy life. He encouraged and supported developing countries to explore modernization paths that suit their national conditions. President Xi Jinping also emotionally pointed out that the same historical experiences and struggles have brought China and Africa closer together. The Communist Party of China has led the people in blazing a successful path of socialism with Chinese characteristics, and China also hopes that African countries will achieve development and prosperity together with China and jointly build a community with a shared future for mankind. African leaders spoke highly of Chinese modernization and the opportunities it brings to their countries' development. Namibian President Hage Geingob said during a bilateral meeting with President Xi Jinping that Namibia is deeply inspired by the Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics and is exploring a modernization path with Namibian characteristics.
A decade ago, President Xi Jinping proposed the great initiative of building a community with a shared future for mankind, which was warmly welcomed and supported by a vast number of developing countries. Over the past decade, the initiative of building a community with a shared future for mankind has taken root and borne fruitful results in emerging markets and developing countries. During this visit, President Xi Jinping once again called for translating the idea of building a community with a shared future for mankind into action, and turning the vision into reality. Regarding the increasing downward pressure on the world economy and the severe situation facing global development, President Xi Jinping solemnly stressed that China has invariably stood in solidarity with fellow developing countries through thick and thin, and has been and will always remain a member of developing countries. He announced that China will set up a special fund dedicated to the implementation of the Global Development Initiative. This reflects President Xi Jinping's broad-mindedness in pursuing the larger interests of all countries and responding to people's concerns. This also demonstrates China's firm resolve to build a community of shared development with other developing countries and to make sure that in the process of global modernization, no country is left behind.
Wang Yi concluded by saying that President Xi Jinping's visit was another successful practice of Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era, especially Xi Jinping Thought on Diplomacy. At a critical juncture in the development of human society, President Xi Jinping, with a long-term vision, broad-mindedness and tenacious will, worked with fellow developing countries to make all-out efforts to push the pendulum of history in the right direction of peace and stability, cooperation and integration, openness and inclusiveness, and exchanges and mutual learning. This once again demonstrates China's commitment to helping others to succeed while seeking its success and taking a global perspective. Wang Yi called for studying and understanding the profound thoughts epitomized by President Xi Jinping's visit and taking solid steps to implement the outcomes of the campaign of studying Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era. He also called for breaking new ground in major-country diplomacy with Chinese characteristics and making new contributions to realizing national rejuvenation and building a better world together.