South African Ambassador to China Xie Shengwen

We signed the document in 2015 and joined the Belt and Road Initiative to build a platform for mutual understanding and exchange. When some people are still on the sidelines, we think it's a good thing full of opportunities.

【Commentary】2023 is the 10th anniversary of the "Belt and Road" initiative, recently, South African Ambassador to China Xie Shengwen said in an exclusive interview with China News Agency that South Africa, as the first African country to sign a memorandum of understanding on "Belt and Road" cooperation with China, South China's cooperation projects cover ports, railways, roads, telecommunications and energy fields, and the construction results are obvious to all.

South African Ambassador to China Xie Shengwen

Chinese companies' Dea wind projects in the Northern Cape have been very successful, not just because they are now successfully bringing in more clean green energy. (And) because of the company's social responsibility, they helped the school, built close friendships with schools in the area, and because of the Chinese company's involvement, reconstruction, our small city along the railway line on the verge of decline was resurrected."

We have a lot of road and rail infrastructure that is improving. We are seeing a lot of Chinese companies setting up regional headquarters in South Africa, and these companies are investing in ICT, working with our telecommunications companies to help them provide equipment, for example, laying 5G fiber in our cities. That's why most of our major cities now have efficient 5G infrastructure.

Among the 53 African countries that have established diplomatic relations with China, 52 countries and the African Union Commission have signed cooperation documents with China to jointly build the "Belt and Road", Xie Shengwen pointed out that the "Belt and Road" initiative is also widely welcomed in other African countries.

South African Ambassador to China Xie Shengwen

Chinese building ports in Tanzania and Nigeria will benefit them and more countries that are using them. The construction of dams in Ethiopia, our very beautiful African Union headquarters building in Addis Ababa, was built with the help of the Chinese government. Now they're even helping us plan to set up the Centers for Disease Control, the Africa Centers for Disease Control. If we look at most of the capitals of African countries, they have modernized their housing, and now they have not only public infrastructure, but also people's own housing.

The joint construction of the "Belt and Road" is enabling more and more African countries to enjoy development dividends, but some Western countries still advocate that China take the opportunity to create a "debt trap" for Africa, and Xie Shengwen strongly refutes this smear.

South African Ambassador to China Xie Shengwen

All of our projects, none of which are called "traps". Across Africa, if you analyze the debt of African countries, the debt burden is not caused by China. And Africa benefits from a lot of Chinese projects. In our work with the Chinese side, we are learning how to design a project, plan a budget, and improve its feasibility. We believe that the Belt and Road Initiative has achieved good results.

Xie Shengwen pointed out that the support rate of the African people for the joint construction of the "Belt and Road" has soared. Not only the head of state and government level support and promotion, but also the private sector and ordinary people actively participate. Speaking of the prospects, Xie Shengwen said frankly that he will continue to deepen and expand cooperation in the future.

South African Ambassador to China Xie Shengwen

We are modernizing our infrastructure. Whether it's the modernization of roads or ports, so that we can help digitize and transform our production departments, we can also work closely with our friends in China and the rest of the world. So it will be improved in the future and scaled up.

At first, people were skeptical. Worry is a pipe dream. Now, we support this initiative, including our business people, and studies have shown that support has skyrocketed. I am sure that many of my brothers and sisters from Africa will join China in celebrating the 10th anniversary of the Belt and Road Initiative.

(Reporting by Li Jiali and Xiao Xin in Beijing)

Responsible Editor: [Li Ji]