Professor Ian Keith Craig (left) and Chinese Ambassador to South Africa Lin Songtian. (Photo: People’s Daily)
Pretoria (People’s Daily) - Chinese Ambassador to South Africa Lin Songtian and his wife Ni Lingling met with the 2019 Chinese Government Friendship Award winners professor Ian Keith Craig and professor Willem Van Niekerk at the Chinese Embassy in Pretoria, South Africa.
Daan Du Toit, DDG of the Department of Science and Innovation of South Africa, Punkah Madka, Acting Director of International Cooperation of DSI, and S&T Counselor Hou Lihong with the Chinese Embassy were also on hand during the event.
On behalf of the Chinese government and all Chinese, Lin expressed congratulations and heartfelt thanks to the South African experts for their efforts in promoting innovation development in China. He also thanked them for strengthening China-South Africa scientific and technological cooperation, and friendly exchanges between both countries. Lin also expressed his gratitude for the efficient and close cooperation of South Africa’s DSI.
Lin said that over the past 70 years since the founding of the People's Republic of China (PRC), and especially after more than 40 years of reform and opening up, China's economic and social development has made remarkable advances and achieved the great leap from standing up to becoming rich and strong. The result is due to the leadership of the Communist Party of China (CPC), reform and opening up, and the self-improvement and unremitting efforts of the Chinese, while at the same time through the support of foreign experts and international friends.
Lin also emphasized that Africa is a continent that is always emerging. China and Africa have complementary advantages and reciprocal needs. The ambassador also stressed how the Chinese will never forget that since the establishment of diplomatic relations, South African experts have brought advanced technology, experience and management to China in areas such as road traffic, biotechnology, mine safety and high-tech investment, and have contributed to China's modernization drive.
Craig and Van Niekerk extolled China's development achievements, congratulated the 70th anniversary of the founding of the PRC, and were grateful to the Chinese government for the award and happily recalled their working and living experience in China.
Craig said he was grateful that he witnessed the recent military parade and celebration activities commemorating the 70th anniversary of the founding of New China. Meanwhile, his wife repeatedly said "We love China."
The professors said that they will create conditions, give full play to their strengths, continue to strengthen exchanges and cooperation with China, actively participate in China-South Africa STI cooperation, and are willing to share with South Africans stories about China's development achievements and contribute to deepening the friendship between the two peoples.
While representing Minister Dr. Blade Nzimande, Toit expressed his congratulations to the Friendship Award winners and gratitude to the Chinese government for conferring such honors to South African experts.
Toit emphasized how DSI cherishes the scientific innovation partnership with China.
On October 12, both ministers of science and technology met for the first time in Germany on the sidelines of Carnegie Group Meeting of S&T Ministers, which has created favorable conditions for deepening the STI cooperation between the two countries.
Lin elaborated on China's positions and principles on the situation in Hong Kong and the frictions between China and the US to gain understanding and support.
China’s Friendship Award is bestowed annually by the Chinese government to honor experts’ working in China. Since the award was first established in 1991, some 1,699 foreign experts have been recognized for contributions. This year, 100 experts from 31 countries have received the award.
Premier Li Keqiang and Executive Vice Premier Han Zheng met with the award-winners this year at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing.
Craig is a professor with the Department of Electrical, Electronic and Computer Engineering at the University of Pretoria. He is the sixth person from South Africa to win the award.
Previously, Craig was the chair of the International Federation of Automatic Control (IFAC) from 2008 to 2014.
A professor of animal and wildlife sciences at the University of Pretoria, Van Neikerk is the former chair of the International Boer Goat Federation and a previous recipient of China’s Friendship Award from 2009.