“On behalf of the Government and the people of the Republic of South Africa, I wish to sincerely thank the Government and the people of the People’s Republic of China for bestowing upon South Africa this distinct honour of a State Year,” said Zuma.
(READ MORE: S.Africa’s Zuma seeks to strengthen relations with China)
“South Africa appreciates your gesture, dedicating the year of the Horse as the symbol of strength, peace, beauty, gentleness, loyalty, collective hard work, and commitment to South Africa.”
Zuma said, this year South Africa had managed to showcase its economic, political and cultural achievements since the end of apartheid to the people of China.
“The year has yielded business and development opportunities and provided a platform to demonstrate South Africa’s innovation and best practices in a multitude of disciplines, including science and technology, mining, arts and culture, and tourism.”
Zuma added that throughout the year, he has been able to visit several provinces of China and interact on a personal level with the people of China from all walks of life.
“We were warmly embraced wherever we went and new bonds of friendship and understanding were forged providing us a better understanding of each other,” reiterated Zuma.
“We have, through this experience, learned to deeply appreciate the beauty of your country and the remarkable progress China has made over the past six decades to become a leading global power."
(READ MORE: China sees S.Africa as equal: Zuma)
South Africa’s president said the year had also served to profile South Africa and improve an understanding and appreciation of the country in China.
“It is our view that this will ultimately lead to the further strengthening of ties in all walks of life between our peoples,” he said.
“The celebration of South Africa has been an expression of our shared values, of mutual trust, mutual respect, mutual benefit and openness in all our interactions.”
He further stated that the outcomes of these celebrations will no doubt enhance the countries’ engagement on the road to prosperity and peaceful coexistence as citizens and friends in the international community.
“The future of our peoples is in our collective hands. Let us continue to build that future together, a future of peace prosperity and harmonious coexistence,” urged Zuma.
“We note your on-going commitment and support to ensure that our emerging nations succeed through development whilst you have practically demonstrated your commitment to the principles entrenched in South-South cooperation,” he said.
“This is evident within the framework of the five pillars of your foreign policy of mutual respect, mutual non-aggression, mutual non-interference, equality and cooperation for mutual benefit and peaceful co-existence.”