‘West‚ not China‚ exploiting Africa’

Asian giant defends role on continent and pledges more investment in business and infrastructure

President Cyril Ramaphosa and President Xi Jinping of the People’s Republic of China
President Cyril Ramaphosa and President Xi Jinping of the People’s Republic of China
Image: Elmond Jiyane, GCIS​

The West‚ not China‚ is exploiting the African continent and China is all over Africa as a “newcomer” to break that monopoly.

That is according to China’s ambassador to South Africa‚ Lin Songtian‚ who was speaking at a media briefing in Johannesburg on Wednesday.

Lin said the West had for years exploited natural resources of the continent while leaving underdevelopment and poverty behind.

China’s dominance in Africa was an attempt to change this‚ he said‚ for the Chinese were about “win-win” co-operation.

China‚ he said‚ had no ambitions to follow in the footsteps of the West, which drew raw resources from Africa to refine them in their countries and then sell back to Africa at a “high price”.

Lin said: “The mineral resources in this continent have been controlled and monopolised by the West since the colonialist times up to today.

“China is a newcomer because in the year 2000 our investment to Africa was less than $1bn (R14.3bn).

“China will never repeat or follow the old past of the colonialist ways. We are here to work together for a win-win co-operation and we will never come here just to exploit and run away.”

Lin said the West controlled all the old and other mineral resources from Cape to Cairo. “That is the meaning of exploitation.”

The ambassador also blasted the US and its president‚ Donald Trump‚ for being bullies and sabotaging the global economy with the trade wars between China and the US.

“President Trump likes making America great but he cannot‚ at the sacrifice of all the world‚ because not only China will suffer for this but no-one will survive‚” Lin said.

According to Lin‚ so involved was China in Africa that almost every road and airport in the continent was built by the Chinese.

In addition, China had pledged $60bn (R858bn) for infrastructure development in Africa‚ either by grant or on a loan basis.

Lin said the argument that SA was not benefiting from Brics (Brazil, Russia, India, China, SA) because of major players such as China and Russia was not true.

“South Africa has already hosted two Brics summits and when you host Brics you become the focus of the international community.

“South African trade with Brics countries from 2011 to 2016 has increased by 54.7%.

“The Brics development bank had its regional centre located in Joburg.”

Lin said his office and the SA departments of international relations and home affairs were finalising the easing of visa requirements, as agreed by the two heads of state.

This will allow smooth movement of the people of China and SA between the two countries.

It would also bolster the South African economy.

“The visa agreement is very important. The South African people travelling to China and Chinese to South Africa will get one visa valid for five years with multiple entries allowed each time for 90 days.

“This will encourage people to travel between the two countries and learn from each other‚ and South Africa is the best tourism destination in the world. “

Lin also praised President Cyril Ramaphosa for the planned Investment Summit in the country, saying Chinese businesspeople would attend in their numbers to help end poverty in SA.

He said SA was on the right path with Ramaphosa’s investment drive.

Lin cited China and how it has reduced the number of people living in poverty from more than 700-million in 1978 to 30-million today.

To this end, China had committed to wiping out poverty by 2021 and SA had lessons to learn from this strategy.

“In the year 2000 because we were poor‚ China investment was just $1bn, but now I am proud to tell you that our foreign direct investment to the continent is more than $100bn (R1.4 trillion) and South Africa is one of the most important countries.

“All investment to this country is more than $25bn (R357bn) and we have created more than 400‚000 local jobs‚” Lin said.