Beijing - China has agreed to $2.5bn in investment projects
with South Africa, the deputy president said on Thursday, on a three-day trip
to China during which he brushed off controversy over a potential visit by the
Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe said the agreement was
made between the Development Bank of South Africa and China Development Bank,
and that the two countries had also signed a memorandum of understanding on
"geology and mineral resources".
South Africa exports about $5.5bn a year in minerals to
China and Africa's largest economy increasingly has been a destination for
Chinese foreign direct investment. Motlanthe provided few details on the
"This financial cooperation agreement is between
development banks and the specific projects in which they are going to invest;
they still have to identify these projects," Motlanthe told a small news
Motlanthe said the deals were intended to "strike a
healthy balance" in trade volume between the two countries.
"To that end, the difference is, instead of just
exporting these minerals as raw materials, there will be... value add to
create jobs on both sides," he said. He is due to meet with China's
President Hu Jintao on Friday.
China last year invited South Africa to join the Bric (Brazil, Russia, India and China)
grouping, a diplomatic coup for President Jacob Zuma. It was seen by analysts
as a Chinese stamp of approval for the country's role as a stepping stone to
the African continent.
Trade, not Tibet
Motlanthe's trip has been slightly overshadowed by a
potential visit to South Africa by exiled Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai
Lama, a man China reviles as a separatist and whom it repeatedly warns other
countries not to receive.
South Africa has not yet decided whether to allow a visit by
the Nobel Peace laureate, who was invited by Archbishop Desmond Tutu to attend
his 80th birthday celebration in early October.
The Dalai Lama, once embraced as a beacon of peace in South
Africa when apartheid ended, has become a diplomatic headache for the country
as its economic fortunes are increasingly linked to China.
Motlanthe made clear that his visit to China, which included
a meeting with China's Vice-President Xi Jinping, was aimed at bolstering
economic ties, deflecting questions about the exiled Tibetan monk. He did not
say whether the issue had been raised in meetings with Chinese officials.
The Dalai Lama rejects China's charges that he espouses
violence and denies seeking independence for Tibet, saying he wants a peaceful
transition to autonomy for his remote homeland which China has ruled with an iron fist since 1950.