Pretoria - As the trade war between Washington and Beijing continues to escalate, Chinese ambassador to South Africa Lin Songtian says the effect of the impasse is hurting millions of people across the world, including United States citizens.
"Everybody suffers, including the European Union and Japan. Everybody is paying a price for this war launched by America against the whole world. It's a global trade war. America is one of our major markets in the world. If they had the commodities in America, they would never have had to come to China. They come to China to buy goods of high quality and at a better price. We export to America [goods worth] more than 400 billion US dollars," Lin said at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg on Friday.
"Now that they have put tariffs on our products, who pays the prices? It's the American consumers, the American people," he said.
Last month, the US placed Huawei on a trade blacklist, effectively banning US firms from doing business with the world's largest telecoms equipment supplier, and escalating a trade battle between the world's two biggest economies.
Last year the Donald Trump administration barred another Chinese telecoms giant ZTE - the second-largest telecom equipment maker in China - from importing American components for seven years after Washington concluded that the entity had deceived US regulators after it settled charges last year of sanctions violations. Later, the punishment was eased, with ZTE having to pay a US1 billion fine and fund a new in-house compliance team staffed by US experts.
On Friday, Lin said Chinese personnel and the corporations were under renewed persecution by the US. "Now it's unfortunate people globally suffering from that trade war launched by America against China. Even in the European Union people suffer. They can kidnap our people, but they cannot stop China's progress. They can stop some people, one company maybe, but China is not developed by one company. We are a nation. America is free to do whatever it likes to do, but no one can stop our progress, our achievements," said Lin.
"We are fighting for justice, equity, and free trade order based on the rules. That is what we are fighting for. We cannot allow America to do whatever it wants. If China compromises and surrenders, no one will be the supplier in the world. The next target will be Japan and the European Union. China is not fighting alone. It is receiving strong support from the international community, including Japan, the European Union, the American people, Africa, and Latin America. All people in the developing world are giving us very strong support," he said.
On Friday, ZTE Corporation South Africa, which has long-standing relationships with different South African institutions of higher education, donated bursaries valued at more than R1 million to Wits University students.
ZTE Corporation South Africa CEO Jerry Zhou said the multinational corporation had been fulfilling its corporate social responsibilities in South Africa for more than a decade through funding partnerships in education, health care, technology, and skills development.
"We are honoured to testify the continuous development of the country's growth. Today SA is going through an important era and stage of transformation, and we strongly believe that the future is within the youth of our generation. ZTE initiated a journey of sponsoring students from Wits University in 2017, successfully sponsoring six telecommunications and IT students in 2018," said Zhou.
The Shenzhen-headquartered multinational telecommunication equipment and solutions company set out to footprint in South Africa in 2006 and had since grown tremendously over the years.
Expressing gratitude to ZTE and the Chinese government, Wits University Vice Chancellor Professor Adam Habib said the world was better off united, staving off forces of polarisation which were on the rise.
"Across the world the forces of polarism are on the rise and what the forces of polarism are trying to do is to force our respective societies to retreat into themselves, and if we retreat as a collective humanity into small communities or nations, then we will never be able to address the challenges of our time." said Habib.
"It's imperative that as a global community we come together. Increasingly, there is a need for governments to start creating conducive invironments for different people to work together. This is why this partnership with China is very important. As ambassador Lin said, this is one of the many relationships that we began to develop across the Chinese institutions upon the realisation that we need to come together," Habib said.