Chinese visit could herald new SA opportunity

The visit to South Africa by Chinese president Hu Jintao raises several critical questions about Sino-African relations.

Moreover, the visit comes hot on the heels of the first ever trade and development summit, the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation in October.

The Chinese leader is coming to Africa for the second time in less than 24 months. No other statesman, especially of an emerging power, has shown so much interest in Africa before.

Are Africans prostrating themselves before another imperial power? Is history repeating itself?

While we have every reason to be anxious, Hu Jintao should be enthusiastically welcomed to our shores. There are numerous factors for this argument. The most obvious is that China is a world power of note. The Asian giant heralds a new beginning, the future.

Secondly, for poor African states the rapid economic growth in China demonstrates what can be achieved without Western tutelage. We should remember the economic prescriptions of the so-called Washington Consensus; the now discredited structural adjustment programs. Under the aegis of the New Partnership for Africa's Development, China could become an opportunity for a mutually beneficial development and trade relationship.

Gampi Matheba, Soweto