China and South Africa
China and South Africa signed a series of documents aimed at strengthening ties and expanding areas of cooperation in Beijing during South African President Jacob Zuma's recent visit.
It was Zuma's first state visit to China since he became the president of South Africa in May 2009. The highlight of the trip was the signing of a declaration upgrading bilateral relations to a "comprehensive strategic partnership."
This expanded partnership focuses on issues such as benefaction and value addition to resources, infrastructure, market access and trade to the Southern African Development Community region and Africa as a whole, Zuma said at an August 25 press conference.
The "comprehensive strategic partnership" will guide the China-South Africa relationship for the next 10 to 15 years, he added.
China is South Africa's largest trading partner, while South Africa is China's second largest African trading partner. Bilateral trade reached $10.81 billion from January to June of this year, up 56.1 percent over the same period last year.
"China is indeed a key strategic partner for South Africa," Zuma said. "China has become a major investor in key sectors of our economy, such as mining and financial services."
South Africa is open for business, and encourages more exchanges between the two nations' business sectors, he said. A delegation of more than 350 business people traveled to China with Zuma to seek business opportunities.
During their meeting, Chinese President Hu Jintao said that both countries should promote trade and investment growth, enhance energy cooperation and improve financial services. They also need to work together in culture, education, media, health and tourism.
While Zuma was in China, the two sides reached agreements on energy conservation, cooperation to address climate change, joint science and technology research and educational exchanges. They also signed an agreement on the mutual exemption of visas to holders of diplomatic passports to facilitate personnel exchanges.