The Chinese Embassy to South Africa today announced its plans to confer a doctorate to Chinese President Xi Jinping, the first South African university to grant the honour to a Chinese leader.
The conferal will take place on April 11 at the University of Johannesburg and the honour would be accepted by Chinese ambassador to South African, Lin Songtian, on President Xi’s behalf.
The Chinese leader is the second foreign high profile figure to receive a doctorate from the Johannesburg-based university during the current graduation season, after the institution confered the same honour to former US ambassador to the United Nations, Andrew Young, last week. Young supported the anti-apartheid struggle in South Africa and was instrumental in ensuring the isolation of apartheid South Africa during his tenure at the UN.
China is a ally of South Africa and the relations between the two countries strengthened post-1994 when the Nelson Mandela-led democratic South African government opted to establish diplomatic ties with China instead of Taiwan.
Both Pretoria and Beijing are members of the political bloc for developing nations, the Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa (Brics). The country is one of the two economic world superpowers with the USA after it grew its economy over the years overcoming poverty and underdevelopment. Today it is the largest steel exporter in the world and its goods are found all over the world.
The university said its conferring the honorary doctorate degree upon President Xi Jinping fully demonstrated that academia in South Africa set great store by and recognize Xi, whom it described as a “visionary statesman”.
“What needs to be mentioned is that this is the first time for President Xi to accept a honorary doctorate degree given by a foreign university. South Africa is the only country in the world that President Xi has paid three state visits to. This event is of great and far-reaching significance to China-South Africa relations,” a UJ statement said.