SA has defended China's investment in Africa, saying Beijing was not pursuing a neocolonial policy and that its growing interest was positive.
South Africa has defended China’s surging investment in Africa, saying Beijing was not pursuing a neocolonial policy and that its growing interest in the continent was positive, a report said on Wednesday.
China’s expanding presence in Africa “can only be a good thing” because it will increase competition for resources and influence in the continent, South African Trade Minister Rob Davies told the Financial Times in an interview.
“We don’t have to sign on the dotted line whatever is shoved under our noses any longer; we now have alternatives and that’s to our benefit,” said Davies, who is part of a South African delegation currently visiting China.
Davies said an appropriate response to Western critics who accuse China of pursuing neocolonialist power in Africa was that “it takes one to know one”.
China has been criticised over its support for unsavoury governments in places such as Sudan and Zimbabwe and its willingness to ignore governance, human rights and the environment in its pursuit for resources.
South African President Jacob Zuma, who is leading the delegation of 350 business executives and a number of key ministers, said China was a “key strategic partner for South Africa, and South Africa is open for business in a big way”, the report said.
Chinese and South African companies signed more than a dozen agreements on Tuesday involving investment in railways, power transmission, construction, mining, insurance, telecoms and nuclear power.
Bilateral trade—which has been expanding since the establishment of full diplomatic relations in 1998—last year totalled about $16-billion, according to figures from both countries.
Zuma, who is due to meet Premier Wen Jiabao and other senior Chinese officials on Wednesday, said on Tuesday that the expansion of foreign trade was a way for his country to “improve the quality of life of all South Africans”.
China, which last year overtook the United States to become South Africa’s largest export destination, mainly imports raw materials such as iron ore, as well as iron and steel, to fuel its booming economy.
Beijing also has unveiled a series of major investments since ploughing $5,5-billion into Standard Bank nearly three years ago.
In May, Chinese companies reached deals to build a $217-million cement plant and invest $877-million to take control of a small South African mining company and build a new platinum mine. - AFP.