Your Excellency, the Premier of the People's Republic of China,
Members of the Chinese Delegation,
Representatives of the South African Government,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Allow me to extend the same warm welcome to you, Your Excellency, Premier Zhu Rongji, and your delegation as expressed by President Mbeki and other members of our government. I certainly hope that your stay up to now has bee!!!that it is always a pleasure to have an opportunity to interact with the Chinese government, and the ordinary people of China. This is especially true given the long history between us, in particular with our party, the African National Congress. I say this because I realise the importance of building strong ties between our two countries, not only on economic and political levels, but also on a social, people-to-people level.
Of course, your visit to our beautiful country could not have come at a more opportune moment than during the World Summit on Sustainable Development, which drew to a close yesterday.
After many months of preparation and at the end of intense and often difficult negotiations, the WSSD has opened the way for the world to take new strides in the foremost challenge of our time -the eradication of poverty and closing the gap between rich and poor, combined with protection of the environment.
We are pleased with the Plan of Implementation to which the leaders of the world have committed themselves.
We believe the biggest success of the WSSD has been in getting the world to turn the development goals of the Millennium Declaration, to halve world poverty by 2015, into a concrete set of programmes and to mobilise funds into those programmes. The WSSD also brought to the fore the need to pay particular attention to the most marginalized sectors of society, including women, youth, indigenous peoples and people with disabilities.
We are also proud to have hosted one of the largest gatherings of the United Nations and must indeed thank all delegates from all over the world for honouring us with their presence. South Africa and developing countries may not have obtained everything they wanted from the WSSD, but the critical issue is that a new agenda for practical action emerged out of Johannesburg.
In this regard, Honourable Premier, we are indeed pleased by your own personal interest in, and commitment to, the development of the African continent, given our plans for the revival of the continent. Within this broad framework of relations between Africa and China, the relations between China and South Africa are a key element.
Indeed, our interaction today is a tribute to, and a celebration of our strong cooperation and close relations. On the economic level we have made much progress, both as individual countries as well as between China and Africa, especially since the formation of the China-Africa Cooperation Forum, which was launched in Beijing in 2000.
Given your very positive response to the recent launch of the African Union, we are assured that both sides would work hard to ensure that the programmes of the China-Africa Cooperation Forum become aligned to the AU's own programme, the New Partnership for Africa's Development, (NEPAD).
It is clear, Your Excellency that we agree on many of the issues that govern the global political and economic order. It would indeed serve our people well if we do our best to strengthen and reinforce our strategic partnership for the sake of building a better world for all of us, including our children and theirs.
One of the key features of the last decade has been the dramatic rise of regional formations in Europe, Asia, and the Americas and of course Africa.
These blocs have proved to be important instruments for resource sharing and stability. I am sure you will agree with me that this development has indeed changed the way we operate internationally.
Through the AU, and NEPAD, our own partnership with the rest of the world is part of the broader quest for a better life for all regions of the world. We are very glad that the agreements that have been reached at the WSSD, in the main, support the same objective.
Ladies and gentlemen, there is no doubt that the warm relations between our two countries will continue to grow from strength to strength. From our part, we remain unwavering in our commitment to genuine and sound partnerships with the government and people of the People's Republic of China.
Honourable Premier, thank you very much for honouring us with your visit. I trust that when you leave tomorrow, you will take with you positive memories and images of your South African experience.
I thank you.