Next Steps in BRICS: Delving into Expansion Talks and Multilateral Diplomacy
South Africa is seeking to elevate its energy partnership with China, with a strong focus on aligning the two nations’ shared commitment to environmentally conscious, low-carbon, and climate-resilient progress.
In a significant event, President Cyril Ramaphosa recently welcomed his Chinese counterpart, President Xi Jinping, to Tshwane for a State Visit. This gathering of distinguished world leaders coincided with the 15th BRICS Summit in Sandton, Gauteng, where collaboration across various domains was brought to the forefront during their interactions.
President Ramaphosa took a moment to express his profound gratitude to President Xi for China’s gestures of kindness and solidarity towards South Africa.
“China’s unwavering support in addressing our prevailing energy challenges is deeply valued by South Africa. This extends to the donation of emergency power equipment valued at R167 million, as well as a grant of approximately R500 million for developmental assistance,” emphasized President Ramaphosa.
He further highlighted, “Our energy collaboration with China represents a recent development that holds the promise of further expansion, in line with our mutual commitments to pursuing low-carbon, climate-resilient developmental paths.”
China’s enduring role as a cherished friend and developmental ally in South Africa’s journey of rebuilding from the shadows of apartheid was acknowledged by President Ramaphosa.
“Particular mention must be made of China’s extensive assistance during the challenging times of the COVID-19 pandemic, including the provision of personal protective equipment, vaccines, and essential supplies not only to South Africa but also to other African nations. This supportive outreach even extended to the debt relief of several African countries,” Ramaphosa acknowledged.
He conveyed that Chinese enterprises, responding with enthusiasm to South Africa’s investment endeavors, have significantly contributed to raising investment commitments surpassing R1.5 trillion over the past five years.
Bolstered by this strong foundation, President Ramaphosa advocated for continued mutual support between the two countries.
Over the course of time, the bilateral relationship between South Africa and China has been steadily fortified, transforming into a Comprehensive Strategic Partnership underpinned by 10-Year Strategic Programmes of Cooperation.
China and South Africa’s shared aspirations for economic growth, development, and collective prosperity for their respective nations and the entire Global South have served as a unifying force.
Ramaphosa affirmed, “This shared perspective has laid the groundwork for advancing cooperation across numerous fronts. South Africa maintains an elevated level of engagement with China in several crucial domains, encompassing international diplomacy, trade, investment, infrastructure development, scientific innovation, and education.”
With China occupying the position of South Africa’s principal global trading partner, and reciprocally, South Africa emerging as China’s most prominent trading partner within the African continent, bilateral trade has experienced a remarkable surge. It has grown from less than a billion Rand in 1998 to an impressive figure exceeding R614 billion in 2022.
“As South Africa, we find inspiration in China’s pursuit of common prosperity, particularly appreciating its inclusive focus on enhancing the well-being of nations across the Global South,” stated President Ramaphosa.
He also welcomed the strides made in various infrastructural development projects related to FOCAC (Forum on China-Africa Cooperation) within South Africa, such as the advancement of small harbours and the flagship uMzimvubu Water Development initiative.
President Ramaphosa concluded by expressing South Africa’s anticipation for hosting the 15th BRICS Summit, succeeding China as the Chair in 2022.
“We extend our heartfelt appreciation to China for its pivotal role in facilitating this summit. We share President Xi’s conviction that BRICS holds a pivotal role in the reform of global governance and the advocacy of multilateralism and collaboration on the world stage.”
“In parallel to our views, South Africa and China are aligned on the expansion of BRICS membership. We eagerly await the discussions that will unfold on this matter during the BRICS Leaders’ Retreat,” Ramaphosa affirmed.