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Top Chinese political advisor starts visit to South Africa

CAPE TOWN, March 28 (Xinhua) -- China's top political advisor Jia Qinglin arrived in Cape Town on Sunday, starting an official visit to South Africa at the invitation of the National Council of Provinces of South Africa.

In a written statement issued upon arrival, Jia, chairman of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, China's top advisory body, said the China-South Africa relationship had advanced in an all-round way since the two countries established diplomatic ties in 1998.

The two countries, which forged the strategic partnership on equality, mutual benefit and common development in 2007, have developed deeper political trust, achieved fruitful results in the fields of trade, culture, education and science, and worked closely on international issues, Jia said.

Since China and South Africa forged diplomatic ties on Jan. 1, 1998, the two countries have been steadily promoting bilateral cooperation and exchanges.

In recent years, frequent high-level exchanges have deepened their strategic partnership. Chinese President Hu Jintao and Premier Wen Jiabao and respectively paid their visits to South Africa in 2007 and 2006.

During the last 10 years, the two countries have obtained remarkable achievements in cooperation in economy and trade. In 2009, Bilateral trade volume between the two countries stood at 16.1 billion U.S. dollars.

In 2009, the two countries also signed more than 50 cooperation agreements, covering nuclear energy, science and technology, health, culture, tourism and other fields.

Jia said it was in the fundamental interests of both countries and their peoples to seek a stronger China-South Africa relationship, which will help boost regional and world peace and development.

"I believe the visit will increase understanding, expand common ground, boost exchanges and deepen cooperation in a bid to cement bilateral strategic partnership," Jia said.

Jia said his visit was aimed at boosting the understanding and friendship between the two nations and consolidating the cooperation in all fields.

During his stay in Cape Town, Jia will hold talks with Chairman of South African National Council of Provinces Mninwa Mahlangu.

Jia will travel to Johannesburg and Pretoria where he will meet South African President Jacob Zuma.

He will also meet the Chinese entrepreneurs in South Africa and attend a forum on China-South Africa economy and trade cooperation.

South Africa is the last leg of Jia's 10-day Africa tour which has already taken him to Cameroon and Namibia.

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