Minister Pallo Jordan’s speech: opening of the china exhibition, “treasures of china", held at the African Window Museum in Pretoria
Your Excellency, Mr. Zhong Jianhau, Ambassador of the People’s Republic of China,
Mr Makgolo, Chief Executive Officer of National Cultural History Museums;
Mr Tong Mingkang Deputy Director-General of the State Administration of Cultural Heritage; China,
Members of the Diplomatic Corps;
Ladies and gentlemen
I am honoured to be part of this historic and auspicious occasion. The opening of the Chinese Art Exhibition, “Treasures of China”,
is part of the celebrations marking the 10th anniversary of the establishment of formal bilateral relations between the Republic of South Africa and the People’s Republic of China.
Both South Africa and China are observing this anniversary in various ways because both countries and their peoples regard it as a significant and historical milestone in their international relations.
The Ministries of Arts and Culture of both our countries have made an important contribution to the very cordial relations between South Africa and China through numerous cultural exchanges under the auspices of the Programmes of Cooperation signed in 2001 and 2006 respectively. This is the fourth consecutive year that I have officiated at a Chinese cultural exposition and we look forward to South African programmes of a similar character being welcomed in China during the course of this year.
During President Hu Jintao’s State Visit to South Africa and the earlier official visit of Premier Wen Jiabao, the leaders of our two countries held extensive discussions and reviewed the principles guiding the bilateral relationship set out in the Pretoria Declaration on the Partnership between the Republic of South Africa and the People’s Republic of China in 2000, the Strategic Partnership established in 2004, as well as the Programme of Cooperation on Deepening the Strategic Partnership between the two countries. The Governments of China and South Africa have both undertaken to further enhance the existing partnership between our two countries by promoting people to people interaction. Cultural exchanges are well suited to this purpose as offer the ordinary citizens of our respective countries the opportunity to expand and deepen their knowledge of each other.
Cultural exchanges and people to people interaction are priority areas in our mutual cooperation. Both need to be expanded and sustained for the immediate and the long term. On our part, the Ministry of Arts and Culture will be making its own contribution to enriching this dimension of our bilateral relations.
We agreed to mount “The Treasures of China” Exhibition in South Africa in 2006. This is the first time that China has mounted such a valuable heritage and cultural objects exhibition in South Africa. The objects on display here reflect over the 5000 years of the Chinese history. China selected the 90 cultural relics for the exhibition. In the spirit of cooperation that we have cultivated over a number of years, the South African hosts prepared a detailed plan for the exhibition and provided the funding to prepare the 700 square meter exhibition space in the National Cultural History Museum.
The Exhibition covers a number of epochs, beginning with Paleolithic and Neolithic ages. Particularly notable in the Ancient China zone is a stone tool that is 500 000 years old. This is the oldest artifact ever displayed at this museum. It throws into sharp relief the stone artifacts and tools that are the assets of this museum. Given the long timeline cover by this exhibition, it affords the people in South Africa a great opportunity to see the heritage treasures of a distant land and to learn about and enjoy the splendid civilization of China.
A South African Cultural and Heritage Exhibition of a similar nature will be mounted in China later this year. We have also been invited to help inaugurate Beijing’s new Performing Arts Centre by placing South African performers on its stages. The cities of Shanghai, Sian and Hangchow have extended similar invitations which we shall be honouring.
Today’s opening underscores once again the great importance South Africa attaches to strengthening the bonds of mutual cooperation among developing countries. Our relations with China are founded on the principles of mutual respect and are rooted in the struggles our respective peoples have waged to define for themselves their place and role in the modern world.
In opening this exhibition we affirm the friendship of our two peoples and the lasting bonds of solidarity between us