South African President Jacob Zuma, attending a high-level African-China forum in Beijing, warned that Africa’s trade ties with China will be “unsustainable in the long term”, the Financial Times reports. Zuma voiced his concern following Chinese president Hu Jintao’s pledge to double loans to $20 billion.
China is Africa’s biggest Asian trading partner, with two-way trade reaching up to $166 billion last year. Africa exports raw materials such as crude oil and copper, while China exports cheap manufactured goods, such as electronics and clothes. African countries have raised concerns that the continent may be relying too much on China, underlining the country’s growing role in the Africa’s development. Chinese business and infrastructure is growing rapidly, with investments worth $15 billion, including dams, airports, mines and wind farms.
China sees Africa as a strategic ally, with Mr. Zuma lauding China’s “steadfast” commitment to Africa. He also, though, alluded to the ‘unbalanced nature’ of relationship. “This trade pattern is sustainable in the long term. Africa’s past economic experince with Europe dictates a need to be cautious when entering into partnerships with other economies,” Mr. Zuma said. Critics accused China of neocolonialism through exploiting the continent’s natural resources without proper environmental or social precautions.