Remarks by Chargé d'affaires Mr Li Zhigang at the Job Fair 2024 of Chinese-Invested Enterprises in South Africa

Your Honorable Minister of Social Development, Lindiwe Zulu,

Your Honorable Minister in the Presidency for Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation, Maropene Ramokgopa,

Your Excellency Second Lady of the Republic of South Africa and Founder of the Paul and Humile Mashatile Foundation, Madam Humile Mashatile,

Distinguished guests, 

Dear job seekers, 

Ladies and gentlemen,

Good morning! It is a great pleasure to gather with you today at the Job Fair 2024 of Chinese-invested Enterprises in South Africa. First of all, on behalf of the Chinese Embassy in South Africa, I would like to extend warm congratulations to this Job Fair and sincere wishes to every applicant. I would also like to thank Minister Zulu, Minister Ramokgopa and Madam Humile Mashatile for their attendance, thank the South Africa-China Economic and Trade Association for their excellent organization, and thank Chinese-invested enterprises and friends from both South Africa and China for their active participation and strong support.

The warm-up flash recorded important scenes from President Xi Jinping’s visit to South Africa last August. During the visit, President Xi Jinping and President Ramaphosa reached a series of important consensuses, witnessed the signing of a number of outcome documents, and made three proposals at the China-Africa Leaders’ Dialogue, namely support Africa’s industrialization, promote Africa’s agricultural modernization, and launch the Plan for China-Africa Cooperation on Talent Development. President Xi Jinping stated that China supports the South African government’s efforts to strengthen vocational education and promote youth employment. Today’s Job Fair is an important measure to implement the consensus reached by our two Heads of State and implement the three proposals.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Dear friends,

Employment is like a bridge with one end connecting national development while the other end connecting family well-being. It is the biggest heart-winning project that benefits ordinary people. In 2022, the Job Fair of Chinese-invested Enterprises in South Africa was successfully held here at this hall. More than 60 Chinese-invested enterprises interacted with more than 1000 young South African job seekers on-site, generating positive social effects. As a good brother, a good friend and a good partner, China is ready to work with South Africa through job fairs to help create jobs and promote development, and to inject vitality into the talent recruitment and local development of Chinese-invested enterprises.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Dear friends,

As an old Chinese saying goes, “Distance cannot separate true friends who remain close even when thousands of miles apart.” Though thousands of miles apart, our two countries have forged an enduring relationship dating back to antiquity. Thanks to the guidance of our two Presidents, China-South Africa relations have achieved leapfrog development from a partnership to a strategic partnership, and then to a comprehensive strategic partnership. The special friendship of “comrades and brothers” between our two countries has been continuously enhanced.

Economic and trade cooperation is a splendid chapter in the relations between our two countries. China has been South Africa’s largest trading partner for 15 consecutive years, and also becomes one of the largest sources of foreign investment in South Africa. In response to the “New Investment Initiative” proposed by President Ramaphosa, China encouraged a large number of high-quality enterprises to participate in the South Africa Investment Conference, supporting South Africa’s development with concrete actions. To help South Africa address the load shedding challenge, China donated three batches of emergency power equipment to ensure reliable power supply during emergencies in local schools, hospitals and clinics. China has also taken the initiative to organize the China-South Africa New Energy Investment and Cooperation Conference creating a useful platform for deepening cooperation between enterprises of the two countries on new energy projects, which brought light and warmth to thousands of households in South Africa with Chinese technology and equipment.

The continuous deepening of economic and trade cooperation between China and South Africa has also made outstanding contributions to local economic and social development. According to statistics from a South African think tank (FDI Market), in the past ten years, China’s cumulative direct investment in South Africa has exceeded 13 billion US dollars with an average of 260 local jobs per project, ranking first among major investors. At present, more than 200 Chinese-invested companies in South Africa have created more than 400,000 local jobs. Some Chinese-invested companies even employ more than 10,000 local people and pay an annual tax of US$40 million.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Dear friends,

Last month, China’s Two Sessions proposed to “strive to modernize the industrial system and develop new quality productive forces [to ensure and improve public well-beings, to encourage and facilitate new consumptions (tourism), to upgrade new manufacturings (light-house factories), leading the way toward industrial transformation, new infrastructure construction in transportation, communication, big data and Internet of Things] at a faster pace.” This will bring more opportunities to countries around the world, including South Africa. At present, China is the world’s second largest economy, the largest trader of goods, the largest manufacturing country, and has the world’s second largest consumer market. Last year, China’s GDP reached 126 trillion yuan (approximately 17.8 trillion U.S. dollars), a year-on-year growth of 5.2%, and the per capita GDP reached 12,700 U.S. dollars. China’s middle-income group has surpassed 400 million, and is expected to exceed 800 million by 2035, containing immeasurable market potential.

The key to state-to-state relations lies in close bonds between peoples. China’s relationship with South Africa and Africa as a whole has a profound foundation of public support. South Africa is the earliest African member of the BRICS and the G20, and is the dazzling pearl at the southernmost tip of the African continent. China is willing to work with South Africa to leverage the advantages of both sides and commit to win-win cooperation to benefit our two countries and peoples. Let China-South Africa relations bear more “golden fruits” in the “golden era”.

The first is to provide a larger market for South Africa’s high-quality exports. In the past three years, China has imported nearly US$100 billion in goods from South Africa. China has become an important export market for South African beef, citrus, red wine and other products. China will continue to expand imports from South Africa and continuously improve the visibility and market recognition of South African products in China.

The second is to provide stronger support for South Africa’s industrialization. We will actively implement the “Supporting African Industrialization” initiative, continue to support South Africa's “New Investment Initiative”, encourage more Chinese enterprises to invest and do business in South Africa, promote the in-depth connection of the industrial and supply chains between our two countries, help South Africa develop its manufacturing industry, and promote the development of South Africa’s industrialization. .

The third is to provide better support for South Africa’s innovative development. We will deepen and expand cooperation in new industries such as new energy, 5G, digital economy, and high-tech. We will invite more South Africans to China for training, accelerate the progress of vocational training center projects and training school projects, continue to strengthen bilateral talent exchanges, and help South Africa improve its scientific, education and innovation capabilities .

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Former President Nelson Mandela said that “A winner is a dreamer who never gives up”. President Xi Jinping emphasized that “Youths with lofty ideals and firm beliefs are the invincible driving force for a country and a nation.” I believe that every job seeker present here is a “dream chaser” with their own dreams. As long as you work hard and never give up, you will definitely become a winner. I also believe that with the help of this Job Fair, enterprises and job seekers will move towards each other, and will be able to form a powerful synergy to work hand in hand and achieve win-win development.

Finally, I would like to wish every job seeker to realize their dreams. Thank you!