SPEECHES: Speech by the Minister for the Public Service and Administration Ms Faith Muthambi, MP, at the reception hosted by the Chinese Embassy celebrating 20 years of Hong Kong’s return to the motherland, Embassy of China, Pretoria, Gauteng Province

Date: 29 Jun 2017

Programme Director

His Excellency Charge d’Affaires, Mr Li Song

Distinguished guests

Ladies and Gentlemen

We appreciate profoundly the invitation extended to us to address this esteemed gathering as you celebrate 20 years of Hong Kong’s return to the People’s Republic of China, ‘the motherland’. Your Excellency, the importance of the strategic partnership which we enjoy with the People’s Republic of China is of special significance to us and we thus value it tremendously.

South Africa places very high regard for the very warm ties of fraternal relations which exist between South Africa and China as well as between the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region.

Your Excellency, we still recall the recent State Visit undertaken by President Xi Jinping to our country in December 2015. Both President Jacob Zuma and President Xi used the State Visit to evaluate progress achieved by the two countries since the conclusion of the Five to Ten Year Strategic Programme for Co-operation adopted in December 2014, during a State Visit by President Zuma to Beijing. Some of the outcomes centred on the need to continue concerted co-operation on infrastructure building, investment, tourism, trade, education and human resource development.

We would like to assure you that in China, South Africa and the continent at large have an invaluable partner in the fight against poverty and inequality. We believe that our political and economic relations will go from strength to strength and further, find new ways of continuing and increasing investments in each other’s economies with the common goal of achieving development and eradicating poverty.

Your Excellency, co-operation between South Africa and China on other critical issues such as the reform of multilateral institutions, financial governance, the global economy and climate change remains paramount. Together, with all developing nations of the South, we need to collaborate and work towards a common goal.

To this end, we are indeed happy today to join you in celebrating the 20th anniversary of Hong Kong’s return to mainland China. Hong Kong has over the past two decades grown and matured as China’s renowned international city. The successful implementation of “One country, two systems” has allowed the Region to seize new opportunities for further economic development.

The success of Hong Kong and Mainland China has undoubtedly proven that the “One Country, two systems” works. Many in other parts of the world were cynical about perceived different models of development, different systems and ideological orientation.

What you proved is that these were not mutually exclusive. If anything, Hong Kong and Mainland China have provided a model on how to harness different systems.

The motto of “One country, two systems” speaks to this reality. It has allowed Hong Kong and Mainland China to share best practices and positive influences to the benefit of the Chinese people and the world at large.

Allowing a form of autonomy has enabled Hong Kong to continue to experiment with its own developmental path without undermining the sovereign integrity of the People’s Republic of China and its people. Indeed, the reconnection with the Mainland China has enabled Hong Kong to forge ahead faster economically. Mainland China is, after all, the second largest economy in the world.

Your Excellency, while other countries are still trapped in managing the tensions between manufacturing and service oriented economies, you have forged ahead in embarking on a service oriented economy. In this, one notes that services contribute 92% for Hong Kong’s GDP, while for the rest of China, the share service in the GDP is just above 51%. This is a remarkable feat by any stretch of imagination.

We also note with appreciation the major infrastructure projects you have undertaken as a way of promoting economic development. We note, for instance, the major projects such as:

    • a mega bridge connecting Hong Kong with the cities of Zhuhai and Macao

    • an express rail line that connects Hong Kong to the Mainland's high speed rail network….and of course many other related programmes.

Infrastructure development is one of South Africa's flagship projects aimed at reigniting our economy. I am confident that our country and the entire continent will benefit from both your experience and expertise.

With regard to matters of Public Administration, again, together we share a common vision. South Africa’s National School of Government and the Chinese Academy of Governance (CAG) signed a Memorandum of Understanding in 2015 for co-operation in various learning and development areas.

A group of about 30 South African public servants will travel to mainland China in November 2017 to attend training, as per the signed Memorandum of Understanding. Your Excellency, it is through such collaboration that we will be able to take our fraternal relations to the next level.

On behalf of the government and people of the Republic of South Africa, I want to thank you most sincerely for this invitation and further wish the people of Hong Kong and Mainland China a happy 20th anniversary.

I thank you.

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