A roundtable discussion among Chinese and South African college students was held in Cape Town last Friday, September 1, just ahead of the Brics summit in China.
Five Chinese and five South African students shared their thoughts on the theme “China and South Africa: What Keeps Us Connected?” More than 200 people from South Africa attended the event.
Over two hours, the students exchanged views on the similarities and differences between the two countries. They also discussed how to complement and cooperate with each other within the Brics framework and in global affairs; how young people view the future of their countries; and what roles they can play in bilateral cooperation. They also touched on food, culture and renewable energy cooperation.
This is the first time the annual “From University to the World” student dialogue was brought to Africa. It has been held in China and the US previously.
The event was organised by China Radio International, China Plus and Global Max Media Group. It attracted support from numerous renowned local and international organisations, including the likes of the Confucius Institute at the University of Stellenbosch, Bush Radio, the United Nations Development Programme, the South African embassy in China, the University of Cape Town’s faculty of humanities, and Brand South Africa.
The event was attended by Ghaleeb Jeppie, chief director for international relations at South Africa’s Department of Higher Education and Training, and Song Bo, the education attaché at the education section of the Chinese embassy in South Africa.
Jeppie said: “The topic of today’s event is specifically relevant, because what binds us, what connects us, is an important issue, especially when the Brics nations are meeting in Xiamen [in China] during the first week of September for the summit. The way our leaders will be discussing these issues is indeed in this kind of dialogue form.”
The organisers of the event said it aimed to promote cultural and social exchange between young adults in China and South Africa. With globalisation emerging as a steady trend, it is important for the future leaders of the two nations to build a relationship and have a better understanding of each other’s cultures. As Brics members, the establishment of friendship should exist not only between the two governments, but between citizens as well.
In light of the topics discussed during the dialogue, Song emphasised the importance of the relationship between China and South Africa. He said: “Our two countries, China and South Africa, are in a very good relationship right now. Thanks to the joint care of President Xi Jinping and President Jacob Zuma, our two countries not only developed stronger and closer diplomatic and economic ties, but also achieved fruitful results in educational cooperation.”
The participants of the dialogue were selected through online competitions. After two rounds of preliminary judgments, the top 10 students received an invitation to attend the finale in Cape Town. Two came directly from China, three were Chinese students studying in South Africa, and five were local students.