SAAF Chief visits China

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Following the September visit to South Africa by General Chang Dingqiu, Commander of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army Air Force (PLA Air Force), December saw SA Air Force (SAAF) Chief, Lieutenant General Wiseman Mbambo, repay the courtesy.

The visit, according to Captain VS Cekwana, Foreign Relations Officer at SAAF Headquarters, was reciprocal with the aim of promoting ongoing good Sino/South Africa air force relations and identifying areas of common interest to enhance co-operation.

During the five-day visit Mbambo and his delegation, including his wife, called on South African students at the People’s Republic of China (PRC) Aviation University of the Air Force. They have been at the university on aviation courses that started in April and are due to finish in February.

When Dingqui was in South Africa four months ago, Mbambo was reported as saying his visit came at the right time in reference to the August BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) Summit in Johannesburg’s Sandton. The three-star also made mention of South African President and Commander-in-Chief of the SA National Defence Force (SANDF) Cyril Ramaphosa, meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping to mark 25 years of diplomatic relations between the PRC and South Africa. Jinping and Ramaphosa went on to co-chair the China-Africa Leaders’ Dialogue in Johannesburg.

Dingqui’s visit was hard on the heels of another senior PRC military officer coming to South Africa, specifically Pretoria.  People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) Chief of Staff, Vice Admiral Hu Zhongming, paid a courtesy call to SA Navy (SAN) Chief Vice Admiral Monde Lobese at SA Navy Headquarters in Visagie Street.

The year’s round of high level Sino/South African defence engagements started with SANDF Chief, General Rudzani Maphwanya, in Beijing in June where he met with PRC Defence Minister General Li Shangfu.