CAPE TOWN -- Africa's recognition that the Chinese economy is one of the
biggest in the world does not mean the continent's countries should define
themselves as recipients of charity, President Thabo Mbeki said on Friday.
Writing in his weekly newsletter on the ANC website on Friday, Mbeki
attributed the growing relations between China and Africa to China's booming
The South African president made the statement shortly after his recent visit
to China for the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation in Beijing, where leaders
from China and 48 African countries mapped out strategic plan to enhance the
continent's bilateral relations with that country.
"The World Bank says that the Chinese economy is the 4th biggest in the
World, with the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 5th and 12th positions occupied by the United
States, Japan, Germany, the United Kingdom and India," Mbeki said.
"This emphasizes the need for us as Africans to correctly respond to the
realities of the world economy, but without defining ourselves as helpless and
pitiful victims of globalization, whom the rest of the world must treat as mere
recipients of charity, described as humanitarian assistance," he added.
He said while China's growth means that it has to export some of its goods to
Africa, it also means the country will have to import its raw materials,
including oil and gas, from Africa.
"To pay for the import of all these products from Africa and others from the
rest of the world, China will have to sustain its export drive," he said.
However, some critics were skeptical of the close ties, arguing China could
have selfish motives, and might only be interested in expanding markets.
South Africa recently imposed restrictions on the import of certain
categories of Chinese textile products after trade unions blamed textile factory
closures and massive job losses on cheap Chinese imports.
"There are some in the world who fear this message of hope and the
possibility it presents to define the process of globalization in a manner that
benefits the poor of the world," Mbeki wrote. "They see the developments
exemplified by the China-Africa Partnership as a threat to their selfish
Taking a swipe at both domestic and international critics of the China-Africa
Partnership, Mbeki accused them of seeing evil in everything good.
"Each of these... within the context of their circumstances, will, with
regard to the China-Africa Partnership, do everything possible to project what
is manifestly good as inherently evil, so that we, who have dire need of 'close
friends, reliable partners and good brothers' become frightened of those who
come to us genuinely extending a hand of friendship, partnership, brotherhood
and sisterhood," he said.