President Jacob Zuma has praised China’s commitment to Africa, but warned that a trade relationship heavily tilted in the Asian giant’s favour was not "sustainable in the long term".
He was speaking yesterday at a high-level Forum on China-Africa Co-operation in Beijing, where Chinese President Hu Jintao pledged a $20-billion credit line for Africa over the next three years.
The pledge - double what China promised to lend Africa at the last joint forum three years ago - is likely to boost China’s relations with Africa. China’s friendship with Africa dates back to the 1950s, when Beijing backed its liberation movements fighting to throw off western colonial rule.
› DA underspent CT budget - ANC
› Consumers warned over cosmetic surgeons
The government relies on trade with China, which it considers a strategic partner, to help meet SA’s development needs. Chinese firms have been invited to invest in the R3,2-trillion infrastructure programme.
Trade with Africa last year reached $166,3-billion, according to China. Over the past decade, African exports to China have risen from $5,6-billion to $93,2-billion.
Mr Zuma said while China provided industrial goods as well as skills development and investment to Africa, the continent supplied raw materials, other products and technology transfer.
"As we all agree ... this trade pattern is unsustainable in the long term. Africa’s past economic experience with Europe dictates a need to be cautious when entering into partnerships with other economies." But the relationship with China was different as "we are equals and agreements entered into are for mutual gain".
"We certainly are convinced that China’s intention is different to that of Europe, which to date continues to attempt to influence African countries for their sole benefit," Mr Zuma said.
The European Union has rejected what it calls China’s "chequebook" approach to doing business with Africa, saying it would continue to demand good governance and the transparent use of funds from its trading partners.
Article continues on page two...