PRETORIA (Xinhua) – South Africa rolled out the red carpet for Chinese President Xi Jinping on Monday as he started his third state visit to the “rainbow nation” with the aim of boosting bilateral friendly relations and cooperation.
This state visit is the first of its kind South African President Cyril Ramaphosa has hosted since he took office in February this year.
The two leaders will hold talks in Pretoria to draw a new blueprint for further developing bilateral relations, and attend celebrations marking the 20th anniversary of their countries’ diplomatic relations.
Mr Xi said that in the past 20 years, China-South Africa relations have developed in an all-round and in-depth way, leaping from a partnership to a strategic partnership and then to a comprehensive strategic partnership.
The two countries have witnessed increasing political mutual trust, practical cooperation, people-to-people exchanges and strategic coordination, Mr Xi said.
At present, China is South Africa’s largest trading partner and South Africa is China’s largest trading partner in Africa, according to Chinese official statistics.
Mr Xi is also scheduled to attend the 10th BRICS summit in Johannesburg on July 25-27. It will be the sixth consecutive time for the Chinese president to attend such meetings.
BRICS gathers the world’s five major emerging economies – Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa.
Mr Xi will attend the BRICS Business Forum, leaders’ meetings, and an informal meeting to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the BRICS summit mechanism. He will also hold bilateral meetings with leaders of other countries on the sidelines of the summit.