South African Labour Minister Mildred Oliphant and Chinese Human Resources and Social Security Minister Yin Weimin have pledged to strengthen cooperation between the two countries in labour market and social security development.
The pledge, signed on Monday, also addresses youth unemployment, measures to help reintegrate the unemployed into the labour market, public employment services and how to improve social security benefits.
Oliphant, who is heading a departmental delegation on a week-long visit to China, said the collaboration between the two countries was aimed at sharing best practices to accelerate their development.
"It would also be of much value to us if we are able to see labour intensive projects that are aimed at creating jobs, as we believe that these will be the drivers of employment creation," she said.
'Driving employment creation'
"The memorandum of understanding (MoU) will herald a new era in our cooperation and will assist in providing valuable deliverables for both our departments."
She also said the magnitude of this cooperation reflected the vision of both countries to work together in order to realise a better future for both nations.
"We sought to cooperate in various sectors of our economies. Through this MoU, we streamlined our engagements, resulting in exchanges of valuable lessons as delegations visited different projects in our countries," Oliphant said.
"Whilst we can look back with pride on our engagements since 2006, I acknowledge that a lot still needs to be done as the fluid labour market keeps on presenting new challenges."
The visit was informed by the "One China Policy" adopted in 1998, which has led to the development of relations that has seen two treaties, 24 bilateral agreements, 10 protocols, 22 MoUs and a declaration established.
She said joint operational programmes to realise the ideals of the MoU would be developed.
'Partnering on scholarship opportunities'
Oliphant plans to use the visit to formalise a partnership with China on the provision of scholarship opportunities for officials in the department. The scholarships should focus on Public Administration, she said.
She will also engage Chinese enterprises on bringing young South African entrepreneurs to China for them to gain experience so that they can operate their businesses efficiently, based on international best practices.
Oliphant said the delegation will also learn about the implementation of the social security system in China.
Through engagements with China in forums such as the International Labour Organisation, G20 and BRICS economic block, South Africa will cooperate with China to strengthen ties.
Weimin said the partnership being cemented was a result of the formalisation of bilateral relations established in the 1990s between the two countries.
"The partnership has reached a new stage and was about to enter into a new era. Your visit is a major development in our partnership. It will further promote more cooperation, and we seek to learn from each other in areas of labour relations and social security."
The two ministers had met in June at the International Labour Organisation Conference in Geneva, where a need for renewing the MoU was suggested.
South Africa last signed a MoU with China during former Labour Minister Membathisi Mdladlana's tenure.