China defends Africa investment as S.Africa deal reported
May 13, 2010 7:11 AM | By AFP
A top Chinese commerce official has defended Beijing's investment policies in Africa amid reports of another giant deal, for a cement plant in South Africa.
* China cements R1.65bn SA deal
Vice Commerce Minister Fu Ziying told the Wall Street Journal “China's presence in Africa is becoming more and more market driven, the actors operating there are diverse, there are many models, and the areas they are in are broad”.
China has steadily built up trade and economic ties with Africa in recent years, drawing accusations in the West that it has taken a “neo-colonialist” attitude toward the continent.
Beijing also has been criticised for befriending pariah regimes in Sudan and Zimbabwe in a cynical bid to lock up supplies of resources needed to fuel expansion of its economy, the world's third largest.
The Financial Times reported Thursday that China would soon announce its largest investment in South Africa for two years — the construction of a cement plant worth at least 1.5 billion yuan (220 million dollars).
The newspaper reports under the deal to be announced Friday, the state-owned China Africa Development Fund and a Chinese firm, Jidong Development Group, will help build the plant outside Johannesburg.
The Industrial and Commercial Bank of China's 5.5-billion-dollar investment in South Africa's Standard Bank agreed in October 2007 remains the largest Chinese investment in the continent to date, the report said.
That deal accounts for about a quarter of the funds that Beijing has dedicated to Africa, it said.
Fu told the Wall Street Journal that China-Africa trade would exceed 100 billion dollars this year, and the growth in investment is likely to enter its fastest period in the next five years.
Chinese official figures showed trade with Africa was at 91 billion dollars last year, down 17.6% from a year ago due to the impact of the global financial crisis.