Ms. Wan Jiangping and your esteemed delegation from Hubei, China;
Ms. Ina Cronje, the Chairperson of Trade and Investment KZN;
Business and Government Leaders;
Social Partners, Ladies and Gentlemen;
Last Wednesday on the 5th of December, we marked five years of the passing away of founding President Nelson Mandela.
And throughout the year, our nation has been celebrating Nelson Mandela and Albertina Sisulu’s centenary birthdays.
The People’s Republic of China occupied a special place in Nelson Mandela’s heart and imagination.
Mandela attributed much of his strength and success to the wisdom and resolve of the Chinese people and their leaders.
While in prison for 27 years, he drew inspiration from the triumph of the Chinese revolution. China became his spiritual pillar.
He once confessed that, “If you know the ways Chinese people chose to carry out their revolution, you will believe that anything is possible.”
In 1992 and 1999, Madiba visited your great country.
Speaking at Peking University on the 6th of October 1992, Madiba said,
“I want to express my gratitude to the Chinese people because since the founding of China in 1949, you’ve always been fighting against oppression, colonialism and apartheid with us.”
Speaking for the second time at Peking University on the 6th of May 1999, Mandela said,
“Our freedom will remain fragile and our rights empty shells if millions of South Africans continue to be cursed by the legacy of homelessness and hunger, ill-health and illiteracy. We have made remarkable progress in improving the lives of our people, but it will take many years to complete the task.”
We are thus extremely honoured to have your delegation from Hubei province visiting the province of KwaZulu-Natal.
We have no doubt that our engagement will translate into tangible and mutually beneficial projects that we must act on to improve the lives of the people of our respective regions and countries.
The provinces of KZN and Hubei, the cities of Durban and Wuhan, the rural communities along u-Thukela and Yangtze Rivers, the women who till the land along uKhahlamba and Wudang mountains - must out of our hard work and commitments have hope that our collective future will be better than our past.
And we have no reason not to succeed since we have the greatest political support imaginable from the leaders of our countries, President Cyril Ramaphosa and President Xi Jinping.
We thank our leaders for also standing firm against unilateralism, trade wars, and protectionism.
We agree with President Xi’s warning that,
“Pursuing protectionism is just like locking one's self in a dark room: Wind and rain might be kept outside but so are light and air.”
As we get ready for our engagements tomorrow, let us recall too the New Year message on 31st December 2015 by President Xi where he said, “
The future is encouraging and inspiring. But happiness does not fall from the sky. We shall establish a spirit to prevail and continue to immerse ourselves in hard work.
And our trade and investment seminar must be defined as such – KZN and Hubei immersed in hard work to radically transform our societies.
Ms. Wan Jianping, I hope that you and your delegation remembered to bring us a taste of your world renowned classic green and yellow teas that are produced in Hubei.
We also hope that before you return home, you will take time to visit this warm and beautiful Kingdom of the Zulus and experience our hospitality and taste South Africa’s ancient Rooibos tea.
I thank you.