Chinese tech firms eye SA for growth

2014-06-04 11:20 - Duncan Alfreds
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Hisense workers place components on boards in the flat screen TV production process at the factory in Atlantis. (Duncan Alfreds, News24)


Cape Town - Chinese technology companies are making South Africa in particular and Africa in general a priority to invest and grow trade between nations.

"I think Hisense is a very good example and successful example of Chinese companies investing in South Africa or Africa at large," Liang Shugen, Consul-General for the People's Republic of China in Cape Town told News24.

Shugen was speaking at the Hisense factory in Atlantis which had secured its first international order.

The factory produces flat screen TVs and fridges and employs around 500 workers from the impoverished area. Officials said that they hoped to increase the local staff to 1 200 if demand increases.

"Within just one year Hisense has produced TV sets and refrigerators which not only sell in South Africa's domestic market. Now they are ready for export. This is really something to celebrate," said Shugen.

Production process

On a tour of the factory, media were shown the production process, but the US and Australia have accused Chinese technology companies of deliberately aiding government-sponsored espionage programmes.

The US has insisted that electronics giant Huawei builds software "back doors" into its network hardware that allows Chinese hackers to spy on American corporates.

Australia caused a diplomatic storm when the government banned Huawei from participating in a tender to build the nation's massive broadband network, citing security concerns.

Shugen rejected these accusations against Chinese companies.

"Hisense is a very good and reputable company in the world and I think the US accusation is groundless. There is nothing that Huawei is doing that the US says. Totally ungrounded."

Recently a German publication reported that the US NSA had conducted espionage against Huawei, and Beijing demanded that the US explain the actions of its cyber spooks.

Shugen said that Chinese firms not only bring capital to SA, but also technical knowhow.

"Chinese companies, when they come to Africa, they not only bring their capital, they also bring their techniques. The Chinese technicians come to help train the local staff where they can take high positions here in Hisense."

Since entering SA in 1996, Hisense has sold around 140 000 panel TVs and 170 000 refrigerators, giving the company a 14% market share.

Watch Liang Shugen's remarks here:

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