Diversification, however, did not mean decoupling, the German Chancellor said.
German outreach to China may well be a path-setter, despite the criticism Chancellor Olaf Scholz has attracted.
This year, the two countries are celebrating the 50th anniversary of their establishment of diplomatic ties.
Germany, its partners, and South Africa are setting up a Just Energy Transition Partnership and are investing billions in renewables.
The two leaders also vowed to strengthen bilateral cooperation during foreign and defence ministerial talks in Germany.
Both sides also agreed to intensify coordination in new fields such as climate change response and renewable energy.
Through the dispatch of the aircraft, including six Eurofighter jets, Germany aims to show that it is thinking about security beyond Europe.