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WELCOME REMARKS BY THE DEPUTY MINISTER IN THE PRESIDENCY, MR BUTI MANAMELA, TO THE CLOSING CEREMONY OF THE AFRICA-CHINA YOUTH FESTIVAL

DIRCO, PRETORIA

26 APRIL 2017


Programme Director – Mr Waseem Carrim
Vice Premier of the People’s Republic of China – Ms Liu Yandong
Deputy Minister of International Relations and Cooperation – Ms Nomaindia Mfeketo
President of the Chinese People’s Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries – Mr Li Xiaolin
Honoured guests from the African continent
Honoured guests from China
Fellow South Africans

This morning, we mark the closing of the 2nd Africa-China Youth Festival at this ceremony.  In our planning for this festival, we wanted to ensure that this festival would bring Chinese and African youth closer together. 
We wanted to ensure that this festival would foster deeper cooperation amongst our youth in the areas of entrepreneurship, education and diplomacy.  We wanted to ensure that this festival would promote a more profound understanding of cultures and forge bonds of friendship and peace.

As the participants embarked on the buses on Monday morning, there was air of excitement.  In visiting the various sites, both African and Chinese youth were exposed to the history, culture and technological innovations in South Africa.  From the Wits Origins Centre to the Apartheid Museum to the Huawei Innovations Centre – the sites visits represented a journey from our painful past to our future that is alive with possibility.  Cross cultural understanding was deepened. 

The dialogues further enhanced perspectives in entrepreneurship, education and diplomacy.  Firm resolutions were taken that will enhance our cooperation in these areas. 
We must be reminded of the Declaration of the 1st China-Africa Youth Festival which called for closer cooperation between Chinese and African youth entrepreneurs.  The very same declaration also included the resolution to expand youth exchange programmes involving Chinese and African youth, especially students. 

Youth entrepreneurs at this Festival have made a call for an online platform to connect young Chinese and African entrepreneurs for skills exchange, business contact, funding and procurement.  These young entrepreneurs have recognised the role of technology in bring people together for business contact.  We look forward to hearing the group report backs momentarily.  Your feedback will form the content and thematic areas of our further cooperation

The welcome dinner further solidified our friendship as we were exposed to cultural items.  Who can forget the melody of the young South African girl who confidently sang in Mandarin? 
The cultural performance reminded us of the power that arts and culture has to break down human barriers and to unite people.

As we move forward, we also need a firm reassurance that the youth of Africa and of China are engaging in an equal and mutually beneficial relationship.  This relationship must go on long after those who are here have taken up new responsibilities. The world is looking to Africa and China to finally show the way in dealing with the lack of transformation of global institutions, the uni-polarity of power and the move towards human development rather than hate, polarization and underdevelopment of one for the continued prosperity of another.

On behalf of South Africa’s youth, I can confidently say that we are sad that this Festival is coming to an end.  But we are gratified that deep bonds of friendship have been formed.  We see this as the beginning and not the end.  We commit to deepening our youth to youth cooperation. 
We commit to working with our Chinese youth counterparts for a more just, equitable and peaceful world.

This is not the end.  It is just the beginning.

With those few words, I would like to welcome you to this Closing Ceremony. 

I thank you.
 
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