China’s ambassador to South Africa, Lin Songtian, flanked by Independent Media chief of staff Zenariah Barends and Independent Media regional executive editor Gasant Abarder. Picture: Brendan Magaar/ANA
Cape Town - South Africa has the perfect foundation to be the locomotive to drive growth and development on the African continent, says China’s recently appointed ambassador to South Africa, Lin Songtian.

During an interaction with senior editors from Independent Media and executives from the Sekunjalo group, he said: “The potential of Africa is huge. The problem is capacity.” He listed infrastructure and governance issues as areas of concern.

Turning to South Africa, Lin, who took up his position in August, said the country’s foundation was perfect to drive continental growth through industrialisation. “We see South Africa as a manufacturing and production base which will create jobs,” he added.

The ambassador stressed the need to work together to help drive development, the key to overcoming poverty.

Pointing at China’s economic development in recent decades, Lin said the aim was to lift all of that country’s 1.4 billion people out of poverty.

“We will get all of our people out of poverty and there is no other country in the world which can say that,” he said.

“The promise to the Chinese people is that we will leave no one behind. It is not easy, but a prosperous country should be to the benefit of all.”

Lin drew parallels between China and Africa, which he said both faced the issue of poverty, particularly in rural areas.

“Poverty in rural areas means potential for us to develop,” he said.

He said China was committed to working with the international community to create a better world.

His views come soon after the 19th Communist Party of China national congress, which set China’s course for the next decade-and-a-half - and emphasized the importance of Africa as a strategic partner.