Chinese President Xi Jinping met his South African counterpart Jacob Zuma on Tuesday in a state visit ahead of a BRICS summit of emerging powers.
Xi and his wife received a 21-gun salute at the seat of government in Pretoria as he arrived for the meeting.
The talks should see the signing of several agreements before the heads of states fly to Durban for the summit of the BRICS grouping of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa.
Trade between China and South Africa last year totalled $60 billion (47 billion euros) — nearly one-third of total China-Africa trade.
Xi will travel to the Republic of Congo after South Africa, his third stop on the continent as part of his first presidential foreign trip which began in Russia.