Chinese President Xi arrives South Africa for Zuma talks, trade summit

Chinese President Xi Jinping arrived South Africa on Wednesday ahead of Summit of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) holding in Johannesburg which he will co-chair with President Jacob Zuma. The two leaders will today hold bilateral talks at the Union Buildings in Pretoria.

Several African leaders are expected to attend, each to make a case for his country as countries on the continent warm up to China, Africa’s largest trading partner. Trade between the two amounted to $220 billion in 2014, according to Chinese news agency Xinhua.

Xi’s first stop in Africa was Zimbabwe where, during his two-day visit, he witnessed the signing of 10 business agreements which included a $1 billion funding of Zimbabwe’s largest thermal power plant.

The deals struck by President Robert Mugabe beams with hope for other African leaders who are looking to renegotiate debt to Beijing and even take up new loans if offered.

Also, Xi, had in an article published on Tuesday reiterated the need for Africa to renew its friendship and cooperation with China.

“China is the largest developing country and Africa is home to the biggest number of developing countries. China and Africa have always shared a common future,” he said.

The biggest gainer in Xi’s trip to Africa, it would seem, is Zuma who would be able to strengthen trade with China at a time of economic turmoil for South Africa. Talks between the two leaders on Wednesday will focus on new initiatives to strengthen trade and investment co-operation, according to the SABC.

China is South Africa’s biggest trading partner with trade between the two countries valued at R271 billion ($18.9 billion).

Xi has shown commitment to strengthening China’s relationship with South Africa, calling for both countries, in his Tuesday article, to work jointly to take bilateral comprehensive strategic partnership to new levels.

“We should leverage our strengths in political mutual trust and economic complementarity, translate our friendship into a strong boost for practical cooperation, and promote more fruitful cooperation in such key areas as marine economy, production capacity, energy, infrastructure, human resources and finance,” he said.

President Xi added: “China supports South Africa in playing a bigger role in international and regional affairs, and stands ready to enhance coordination and cooperation with South Africa in important international mechanisms and major international issues”.