Consul General [Mr Madoda Ntshinga], Distinguished Guests,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
- Good evening. I am delighted to be here tonight to share
with you the joy of celebrating the Republic of South Africa’s
National Freedom Day. On behalf of the Government of the Hong
Kong Special Administrative Region, may I extend to you, Consul
General, and the people of South Africa, our warmest
congratulations on your Freedom Day.
- South Africa may sound a bit far away for people in Hong
Kong. However, the geographical distance has not hindered our
shared beliefs. As Consul General mentioned earlier, South Africa
respects basic human rights and remains committed to the rule of
law. These are exactly the same commitments Hong Kong shares
with South Africa to promote a fair and just community. With the
shared beliefs, it is not surprising that our relationship has been
growing closer and closer.
- On economic front, our bilateral trade in goods last year
soared by 13 per cent over 2016, totaling US$2.3 billion. The
growth trend has been visible for some years now. Between 2013
and 2017, our bilateral trade grew, on average, 8.8 per cent a year.
- Equally telling was the US$2.6 billion worth of trade
between South Africa and the Mainland routed through Hong Kong
in 2017. That represented some 7 per cent of the total trade
between South Africa and the Mainland last year.
- Similar to the strategic location of South Africa as the
gateway to the African continent, Hong Kong has an increasingly important role as the business bridge between the Mainland and the
rest of the world.
- With the celebration of 20 years of formal diplomatic
relations between the People's Republic of China and South Africa,
China’s visionary Belt and Road Initiative and its call on Hong
Kong’s support of the massive infrastructure-led schemes, Hong
Kong's role is bound to further expand in the coming months and
- Just two weeks ago, the Mainland’s People’s Bank of
China Governor, Mr Yi Gang, speaking at a seminar in Beijing cohosted
by the International Monetary Fund, emphasised the need to
diversify funding sources for the big-ticket projects of the Belt and
Road Initiative. At the seminar, Mr Yi underlined Hong Kong’s
strengths as an international financial centre1.
- Apart from our reputation as an international financial
centre, Hong Kong is also a leading centre for international legal
and dispute resolution services in Asia Pacific, coupled with our
other strengths such as our rule of law underpinned by an
independent judiciary and diversified talent pool.
- I know that South Africa takes an interest in the promising
prospects of the Belt and Road Initiative, and is a prospective
founding member of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank.
Hong Kong is the “deal maker and dispute resolver” that the South
African enterprises could rely on when pursuing the Initiative.
- The Belt and Road Initiative offers unprecedented
opportunities for cooperation – in infrastructure, trade and
investment, to be sure. But equally so in the development of
- The promising economy of South Africa will no doubt provide impetus to the Belt and Road Initiative, and the Initiative
will at the same time offer unprecedented opportunities for
cooperation between Hong Kong and South Africa in infrastructure,
trade and investment.
- I am delighted to see that our people-to-people bonds also
continue to grow. This memorable National Day marks South
Africa’s historic election, which was held 24 years ago tomorrow.
That election brought Nelson Mandela to power as President of
South Africa. This year is particularly special in that it celebrates
the centenary of Mr Mandela’s birth.
- Last October, the Chinese University of Hong Kong, in
collaboration with the South African Consulate-General, organised
a Mandela Exhibition as part of its International Festival2 to show
the life of the national Nobel Peace Prize laureate at different stages.
- And in November, the World Cultures Festival, with the
theme “Vibrant Africa”, welcomed to Hong Kong the Cape Town
Opera and the Cape Town Philharmonic Orchestra for “Mandela
Trilogy,” a folk opera tribute to the life and legacy of Mr Mandela3.
- No doubt, there will be more celebrations of the great
nation builder, and his centenary, in the coming months here in
Hong Kong, as there will be in South Africa and around the world.
- Furthermore, the people of Hong Kong and South Africa
share a love for the great game of rugby. It was just last month that
South Africa joined the rugby world here for the annual Hong Kong
Rugby Sevens. The Blitzboks finished third overall, and still lead
the World Rugby Sevens Series4.
- Beyond rugby, our people also find common ground in
culture. Let me add that the Hong Kong Arts Festival, which ended
just a month ago, showcased the Asian premiere of “A Man of
Good Hope,” a stunning international theatre collaboration that
included the Cape Town-based Isango Ensemble56.
- Ladies and Gentlemen, we sincerely look forward to more
and more exchanges and cooperation between Hong Kong and
South Africa. As you celebrate your Freedom Day, I would like to
wish all the people of South Africa every prosperity and happiness,
and also every success to your future endeavours.
- May I now propose a toast “To the People of South Africa”.
South China Morning Post, 12 April 2018
2 CUHK Communications and Public Relations Office, October 2018
World Cultures Festival 2017, November 2017, http://www.worldfestival.gov.hk/2017/en/closing.html
eNCA.com, 8 April 2018, https://www.enca.com/south-africa/blitzboks-keep-world-series-lead-withhong-kong-bronze
Hong Kong Arts Festival, March 2018
Isango Ensemble is a South African theatre company that draws its artists mainly from the townships
surrounding Cape Town. Their stage productions and films have played to sold-out audiences across the
world, and they have received numerous international awards. (http://site.isangoensemble.org.za/)