BEIJING, Aug. 21, 2023 /PRNewswire/ — As a mandarin teacher who used to be a student at the Confucius Institute at Durban University of Technology in South Africa, Sanele Ntuli is a participant and beneficiary of China–South Africa cultural exchanges and cooperation.
Studying mandarin at the institute since 2018, he had been to China for a one-year study in 2019, experiencing China’s development. His strong interest and persistent learning allowed him to provide mandarin teaching for local people in South Africa.
Recently, 50 faculty and students at the institute wrote a letter to Chinese President Xi Jinping, thanking him and the Chinese government for providing opportunities for young Africans to learn Chinese and pursue their dreams.
It was originally Ntuli’s idea to write to President Xi to tell him about the development and achievements of the institute. “It will be a fulfilling moment if President Xi replies and visits us,” he told China Media Group.
Fortunately his dream came true. On August 18, Xi replied to the letter, encouraging them to learn the Chinese language well and contribute to carrying forward the China–South Africa friendship and promoting friendly cooperation between the two countries.
The Chinese president is set to attend the 15th BRICS Summit in Johannesburg, the largest city in South Africa, and pay a state visit to the country from August 21 to 24.
Cultural exchange between China and South Africa
During his visit to South Africa in March 2013, Xi witnessed the signing of an agreement on the joint establishment of the Confucius Institute at Durban University of Technology between China and South Africa. The institute has since trained nearly 10,000 students.
Xi, in his letter, hailed China and South Africa’s special, comradely and fraternal friendship. Learning and understanding each other’s language and culture contributes to facilitating mutual understanding and cultivating ever-lasting friendship between the people of the two countries, the Chinese president wrote.
The teachers and students are welcome to visit China more often, have a deeper understanding of China, share a true, multi-dimensional and panoramic view of China with more friends, and strive to be envoys for inheriting and developing the friendship between the two countries, contribute to promoting China–Africa friendship and cooperation and building a community with a shared future for mankind, Xi said.
There are currently six Confucius Institutes and three independent Confucius classrooms in South Africa. More than 10 universities in China have established partnerships with universities in South Africa.
In 2015, South Africa took the lead in integrating Chinese language teaching into the national education system among African countries.
Significance of Xi’s upcoming visit
This year also marks the 25th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and South Africa.
A Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson has said the Chinese president will exchange views with South African President Cyril Ramaphosa on bilateral ties and draw a blueprint for the growth of bilateral relations, injecting strong impetus into the construction of a high-level China–South Africa community with a shared future.
Noting that South Africa is China’s comprehensive strategic partner and was the first African country to join the Belt and Road Initiative, the spokesperson said bilateral relations have achieved leapfrog development and reached far beyond the bilateral scope and increasingly bear global significance.
No matter how the international landscape may change, China will not change its commitment to deepening friendship and enhancing solidarity and cooperation with South Africa, he added.