SA’s Chinese embassy awards 59 university students for tackling socio-economic issues
University students from across South Africa were recognised by the People’s Republic of China embassy in SA after entering an essay contest.
Deputy Minister for Higher Education, Science and Innovation Buti Manamela (fourth from the left) and Chinese ambassador to South Africa Chen Xiaodong, with some essay contest winners. Picture: Supplied
On the eve of China and South Africa next year celebrating 25 years of diplomatic relations and SA taking over the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) presidency – the Asian economic giant was on Saturday bullish about bolstering stronger bilateral engagements with SA.
This, as China-South Africa ties took another level, through deepening academic interaction between the two countries, with 59 local university students being awarded prizes by the People’s Republic of China embassy in SA, after entering in the essay contest themed “Xi Jinping’s Thought Through South African Students’ Eyes.”
Poverty alleviation, governance philosophy, ecological conservation, a community with a shared future for mankind and BRICS, were among several topics covered by 230 students from universities in Gauteng, Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal, with Deputy Minister for Higher Education, Science and Innovation Buti Manamela and Chinese ambassador to South Africa Chen Xiaodong, congratulating entrants.
Said Manamela: “Today’s award ceremony is further testimony of the cordial relationship that exists between our two great nations.
“The governments of South Africa and China share a long and proud history of warm relations and bilateral cooperation.
“Over the course of the last four decades, China’s GDP (gross domestic product) growth averaged to over 8% a year.
“This resulted in the Chinese economy undergoing the fastest sustained expansion by a major country in history.
“With this, China has contributed close to three-quarters of the global reduction in the number of people living in extreme poverty.
“Over the same period, the Chinese government made significant improvements in access to health, education, and other services.
“Today, China is classified as an upper-middle-income country that has a GDP of over $18 trillion, an unemployment rate of 5.5% and has the largest basic education system in the world, with almost 260 million students and over 15 million teachers in over 500 000 schools.
“It also aims to become a global leader in strategic emerging technologies such as cyber, artificial intelligence and quantum technologies, having produced global tech giants such as Huawei, JD.com, China Mobile, Alibaba and Tencent.
“All this is part of China’s vision to build one of the world’s most advanced and competitive economies with the help of innovative manufacturing technologies.”
Manamela lauded China’s long-term development plans, he described as “not just simple, but the leadership of China ensures that they enjoy broad public support”.
“There is also a seamless transition from one leadership collective to the other.
“This means that, even when there is a change in the political leadership, the national vision, as articulated in China’s long-term development plans, doesn’t change.
“For instance, when addressing the recent 20th National Congress of the Communist Party of China, President Xi Jinping laid out the grand blueprint for China’s development for the next three decades,” said Manamela.
In his keynote address, Chen said the new development of China in the new era would bring “new opportunities to the world and will certainly give boost to the future development of China-South Africa relations”.
“Under presidents Xi Jinping and Cyril Ramaphosa, China-South Africa Comprehensive Strategic Partnership, has made remarkable progress.
“Next year, China and South Africa will celebrate the 25th anniversary of diplomatic relations and the South Africa will take over the BRICS presidency, which will usher in a new historical starting point for bilateral relations.
“China will work with South Africa to strengthen the exchange of experience in governance, deepen mutually beneficial cooperation, expand solidarity and cooperation in international affairs, promote people-to-people exchanges, and further broaden our high-quality cooperation, so as to enhance the sense of gains and happiness of the two peoples.
“The Chinese government welcomes outstanding students from all over the world, including South Africa, to study or exchange in China,” said Chen.
According to the China-South Africa agreement, China annually provides about 30 full scholarships under the Chinese Government Scholarships programme for South African university students – to study languages or pursue academic degrees in China.
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Said Chen: “Through this programme, a number of South African students have been able to fulfil their dreams in China over the past few years.
“They studied hard in China and brought what they learnt back to South Africa.
“Now, they are playing an important role in their respective jobs and have become envoys of China-South Africa friendship.
“The 2023 Chinese Government Scholarship is now open for application.
“Relevant information is available on the embassy website and the website of the South African Department of Higher Education.
“If you are interested, you are welcome to access these websites and file application. China will welcome you with open arms.
“General Secretary Xi Jinping pointed out in the report of the 20th CPC national congress that a nation will prosper only when its young people thrive.”
He said that the younger generation “should aim high but stay grounded, dare to think big and take action – but make sure you can deliver”.
He added: “You should strive to be the new era’s great young generation, a generation with ideals, a sense of responsibility, grit and dedication.
“The youth give rise to infinite hope and young people are the creators of a bright future.
“The future of China and South Africa – the continuation of friendship between the two countries – are in the hands of the promising young people of the two countries.
“We hope all of friends can continue to follow the development of China and China-South Africa relations and continue to study and promote Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era.
“I have seen in you all the spirit of the younger generation of South Africa– your ability to think rationally and dialectically, your creativity of the mind and hands-on abilities.”
Speaking on behalf of essay entrants, University of Johannesburg student Edmund Terem Ugar said: “About two months ago, the Chinese Embassy organised this essay contest with the theme: ‘Xi Jinping’s Thought Through South African Students’ Eyes’.
“We participated because researching is something we live for, believing that the African-China relationship will positively affect African politics and the economy – striving to make Africa prosper.”
Also attending the ceremony were Minister in the Chinese embassy Li Zhigang, acting deputy vice-chancellor of the Durban University of Technology Professor Keo Motaung and directors of confucius institutes.