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S. African scholar, Chinese businessmen see closer Sino-Africa ties

Two Chinese companies operating in South Africa on Thursday reiterated their commitment to Africa’s economic growth and predicted that Sino-African relations are poised for growth.

Representatives of FAW Vehicle Manufacturers (SA) and UnionPay, a global leading bankcard service, were contributing to a panel discussion in Johannesburg on Sino-Africa relations. Charles Wang of UnionPay said China consider Africa as its all-weather friend and is willing to have along and lasting friendship with the continent.

“When I was still at school I was taught that Africa is a good friend and brother of China. China has done a lot in building infrastructure like schools, hospitals and airports in Africa and has offered loans with low interests of 2-5 percent.”China is doing all this to help Africa develop and this is not driven by profits. We are more concerned about building relationship with Africa. China is committed to Africa’s economic growth,” said Wang. He added that China has problems of its own like poverty in some rural areas but chooses to help its long time friend — Africa.

Wang also stated that the Chinese government does not interfere in African politics and never tell African people for which African leaders they should vote or impose their ideology or culture on African countries.”The bond between Africa and China is unbreakable. This relations has been build over the years and will grow from strength to strength,” Wang said. He said African countries can learn from China in developing their economies.

Richard Heinz Leiter, Executive Director of FAW Vehicle Manufacturers (SA), agreed with Wang about China’s commitment to Africa’s economic growth. Leiter said, “We are not here to make profit. China is interested in long term projects which pay off even after 30-50 years. America and Europe focus on short term projects. China took a risk no one was prepared to take in assisting Africa.”

He said China has footprints in the majority of African countries, including South Africa, Zimbabwe, Zambia and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DR Congo). Some Chinese private companies are also willing to help Africa, building the relationship and coming up with feasible business plans, Leiter said.

Commenting on the future of Sino-Africa cooperation, he said, “If there is anyone who denies that this friendship will grow, he is a fool. With the infrastructure which has been built with assistance from China this relation will grow and the benefits will multiply and that would be good for us.” He stated that China has not only been bankrolling big projects but also involved in skills development in Africa. Martyn Davies, Chief Executive Officer of Frontier Advisory, a South African think tank, said there are lots of lessons to be learned from China. China, he said, has achieved an economic growth in less than 15 years that South Africa has failed to achieve in 50 years.

“In the last 15 years China has had a significant impact on Africa. It has been the largest lender to African governments, the largest investor and the biggest trading partner. Some lessons include focused leadership, pro-business, creation of a culture of competition internally, be it in individuals or companies. This would stimulate innovation and ensure that things be done better,”Davies told Xinhua.

He said Africa should learn the entrepreneurship skills from China, high education input into the society and on how to generally grow the economy and manage that growth.

He added that a rising Africa needs a country like China with a resource base and willingness to bankroll infrastructural projects.

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