China hailed as the ‘New Jerusalem’

The Star Early Edition - - WORLD - SHAN­NON EBRAHIM Group For­eign Ed­i­tor

‘I HAVE seen the New Jerusalem, and it is in China,” Dr David Monyae, the co-direc­tor of the Con­fu­cius In­sti­tute in Jo­han­nes­burg told a packed SA-China di­a­logue at the Univer­sity of the Wit­wa­ter­srand yes­ter­day.

Monyae, pic­tured, had just re­turned from the open­ing of the Im­port Expo in Shang­hai, where 172 coun­tries and or­gan­i­sa­tions par­tic­i­pated, with 400 000 Chi­nese pur­chasers in at­ten­dance.

“It seems China has con­quered the fu­ture. It has up­lifted 700 mil­lion peo­ple out of poverty. I went into a fac­tory with­out a sin­gle worker on the fac­tory floor – only ma­chines. How are we go­ing to com­pete with that? We are sleep­ing,” Monyae said.

He em­pha­sised that as Africans we need to add value to our prod­ucts by ben­e­fi­ci­at­ing our re­sources, and we can no longer be sim­ply ex­port­ing our raw ma­te­ri­als. “To achieve our eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment we need to part­ner with strate­gic coun­tries which in­clude China, the UK and Ger­many.”

Vice-Chan­cel­lor of Wits Univer­sity Adam Habib ar­tic­u­lated sim­i­lar sen­ti­ments in his open­ing re­marks say­ing, “We need to broaden our part­ner­ships with ur­gency, and that in­cludes look­ing east.”

As the key­note speaker, Chi­nese Am­bas­sador Lin Song­tian de­picted the China-South Africa re­la­tion­ship in par­tic­u­larly strate­gic terms. “We view each other as a strate­gic pivot,” he said. “South Africa is the only coun­try in the world that Pres­i­dent Xi Jin­ping has paid three state vis­its to.”

Lin hailed the huge ad­van­tages that South Africa has such as rich re­sources, su­perb lo­ca­tion, and ex­cel­lent con­di­tions for de­vel­op­ment.

David Mal­colm­son, the chief direc­tor for Re­gional Or­gan­i­sa­tions at Dirco, weighed in dur­ing the di­a­logue say­ing, “China re­sponded im­me­di­ately to South Africa’s iden­ti­fi­ca­tion of the three main bot­tle­necks to its de­vel­op­ment, those be­ing in­fra­struc­ture, skills de­vel­op­ment, and fi­nanc­ing.”

Dr An­dre Thomashausen, pro­fes­sor emer­i­tus of In­ter­na­tional Law at Unisa, posed the ques­tion, “Where is Europe? China has in­vested over $100 bil­lion in Africa since 2010, but we are not re­ally sure what it is the Euro­pean coun­tries are do­ing.”

But the ex­ec­u­tive direc­tor of the In­sti­tute of Global Di­a­logue, Dr Phi­lani Mthembu, in­sisted that it is be­cause of African agency that China has no­ticed the op­por­tu­ni­ties that the con­ti­nent presents.

In an ef­fort to con­trast Chi­nese ini­tia­tives on the con­ti­nent with that of some Euro­pean pow­ers, one of the par­tic­i­pants said, “There is a Euro­pean coun­try that cur­rently con­trols the for­eign re­serves of some Fran­co­phone African coun­tries from their cap­i­tal city. When those African coun­tries do not be­have in the man­ner in which that coun­try wants, their for­eign re­serves are with­held.

“They also have mil­i­tary forces de­ployed on the con­ti­nent that have led to the dis­in­te­gra­tion of coun­tries like Libya.”

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