The first talks between China and South Africa on people-to-people exchanges and culture were praised Monday by President Xi Jinping, who said it would “build a foundation” of public support for the ties and stimulate cultural exchanges.
The talks were led by visiting Vice Premier Liu Yandong and South African Minister of Arts and Culture Nathi Mthethwa, who co-chaired the meeting.
Xi, in a letter of congratulations following the first meeting, said the China-South Africa High-Level People-to-People and Cultural Exchanges Mechanism, as the talks are called, is the first high-level dialogue between China and any African country to push people-to-people and cultural exchanges.
It also is an important action that would lead to implementing the results of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation Johannesburg Summit in 2015, Xi said.
The mechanism covers areas such as education, culture, science and technology, health, youth, women, press, think tanks, tourism and sports, Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said earlier this month.
South African President Jacob Zuma said in a congratulatory letter that the mechanism’s launch is more evidence the two nations have a good relationship.
Further, he said, it will boost mutual understanding and lift the ties to greater heights.
Both China and South Africa are major developing countries and members of BRICS, an organization of five emerging nations: Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa.
In recent years, a comprehensive strategic partnership between the two nations “has maintained a robust momentum of development and has brought tangible interest for the two peoples,” Xi said.
Xi also said China is ready to join African countries, including South Africa, to usher in a new era of China-Africa cooperation.
When addressing the meeting Monday, Liu noted that among the African countries, South Africa has received the largest number of Chinese students and Confucius Institutes.
The two countries have also made progress in jointly building science parks and conducting research and development, and many young South Africans work and live in China, Liu added.
During Liu’s official visit to the country, the two sides also held a ministerial level conference for health cooperation Monday.
Xi said cooperating with each other on health is an important part of a friendly relationship and all parties concerned are encouraged to work together for the benefit of both countries.