Vice-president Meets S. African Defense Minister

Vice-President Hu Jintao said in Beijing Wednesday that China and South Africa, both influential developing countries, are facing the task of safeguarding peace and stability, developing their respective economies and improving people's standards of living.

They also share common ground and interests in international and regional affairs, Hu said at a meeting with South African Defense Minister Patrick Lekota.

Hu, also vice-chairman of the Central Military Commission, said that China is willing to work with South Africa to further promote relations between the two countries and armed forces.

The Chinese people had once supported the South African people' s just fight against apartheid and national liberation, he noted, and the people of the two countries thus have a traditional and deep friendship.

Bilateral relations have developed rapidly since the establishment of Sino-South African diplomatic relations in 1998, and bilateral cooperation in various fields has expanded steadily.

He said during Chinese President Jiang Zemin's recent visit to South Africa, the two countries signed the Declaration on Sino-South African Partnership, announcing the establishment of the Bi-National Commission between the two countries, which raised bilateral relations to a new high.

The Chinese vice-president also briefed the South African defense minister on China's viewpoint on the international situation and its stance on the Taiwan issue.

Lekota said that President Jiang's South Africa visit pushed forward the development of bilateral relations, and the South African government adheres to the one China policy.

He said he has had fruitful meetings with Chinese officials from various departments during his current visit to China.

China is a friend and partner of Africa, and South Africa is prepared to cooperate with China, Lekota said, noting that the ministerial-level meeting on Sino-African cooperation to be held in Beijing later this year is highly significant, because it will open up new prospects for the development of relations between Africa and China in the new century.

He said that South Africa is willing to work with China to ensure the success of the meeting.

People's Daily Online ---