JOHANNESBURG, Jan. 1 (Xinhua) -- South Africa on Sunday commemorated the 25th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations with China.
"Throughout the past 25 years, the two countries have deepened their wide-ranging bilateral relations, which have since been elevated to a Comprehensive Strategic Partnership and underpinned by a new 10-Year Strategic Programmes of Cooperation (2020-2029)," said the Department of International Relations and Cooperation in a statement on its website.
South Africa established diplomatic relations with China on Jan. 1, 1998.
Regular interaction between South Africa and China takes place at various official levels and includes exchanges of state visits and high-level engagements as well as cooperation across different government ministries, according to the statement.
"These engagements are a testimony to the great importance attached by both sides to the historic political and economic ties," the statement said, adding that South Africa and China enjoy vibrant economic relations and China is by far South Africa's largest global trading partner.
The bilateral trade grew exponentially over the years, increasing from less than 1 billion Rand (about 59 million U.S. dollars) in 1998 to the current levels of 544 billion Rand in 2021. South Africa is also China's number one trading partner in Africa, the document said.
More importantly, the mutually beneficial relationship supports South Africa's foreign policy objectives towards the achievement of its domestic development imperatives, as well as promotes the broader socio-economic development goals of the African continent, according to the statement.
This year, South Africa will be hosting the 15th BRICS Summit as the Chair, having taken over from China, according to the document, which notes that the two countries remain committed to close cooperation and partnership within the context of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation.
As part of the 25th anniversary of bilateral relations, Minister of International Relations and Cooperation Naledi Pandor and her Chinese counterpart have exchanged letters of congratulations to reaffirm the well-established relations.
The two sides are keen to explore further areas of collaboration for the mutual benefit, economic growth, and prosperity of their respective nations. Furthermore, the two governments have planned several activities that will take place throughout the year in both South Africa and China, to celebrate this milestone, the statement said. ■