ANC's China visit falls on back of Dalai Lama debacle

High-ranking officials of the African National Congress (ANC) visited China this week, local media reported on Sunday, in what could be seen as the party’s unreserved support for Beijing.

ANC officials were not immediately available to confirm reports in two newspapers—the City Press and Sunday Independent—that party representatives went to China.

The visit came after South Africa delayed a visa application for the Dalai Lama, who was to visit the country to celebrate Nobel Peace Prize winner Desmond Tutu’s birthday.

ANC supporters, leading newspapers and Tutu said the move was symbolic of the failings of the party that helped end apartheid but was now failing to live up to the ideals of the liberation movement it had once been.

China has labelled the Dalai Lama a dangerous separatist and analysts said Pretoria bowed to pressure from its largest trading partner to bar the Tibetan spiritual leader from visiting, damaging its reputation in the process.

Two weeks ago, China pledged to invest $2.5-billion in South Africa during a visit to Beijing by Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe.

The City Press said ANC Secretary-General Gwede Mantashe, high-ranking official Jessie Duarte, deputy economic development minister Enoch Godongwana and other party officials had spent the week in China on an exchange programme with the Chinese Communist Party.

ANC Gauteng Chairperson Paul Mashatile was quoted in the City Press as saying the Chinese governing party had offered to “teach the ANC about politics”.

In a video link with Cape Town, the Dalai Lama on Saturday said China’s officials were hypocrites whose regime was built on lies.—Reuters

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