“Yes, we do a lot on this continent and we get a lot (in return). The most important factor is that we get and give support in all we do,” he said, adding that the Asian country's relationship with South Africa and the rest of continent is a mutually beneficial one.
Songtian's remarks come amid continuous questions over China's vested interest in Africa and what it expects to get in return.
Chinese President Xi Jinping signed 10 commercial agreements with President Cyril Ramaphosa during the 10th BRICS Summit in Sandton. These agreements include a $14.7 billion (R208.6bn) investment geared towards economic growth and development in the country.
China, South Africa’s largest trading partner and the second largest economy in the world, has also invested significantly in other parts of Africa by means of increasing infrastructure and creating job opportunities to reduce poverty.
And now as the continent’s leaders, including Ramaphosa, prepare to attend the Forum on China-Africa Co-operation summit in Beijing next month, Songtian highlighted that his country was more concerned about producing tangible results that would lead to a prosperous Africa rather than making empty promises. “China is a newcomer. Resources have (in the past) been exploited and controlled by the West. Check the record of the West and what they have done.
"China will never repeat the actions of the colonial way (era). We won’t exploit and run away."
He explained that in places where China sought to obtain mineral resources, it ensured that the interests of the people and communities in which they lived were placed first.
Songtian, who addressed the media shortly after holding discussions with the South African National Editors’ Forum in Richmond, also reflected on the BRICS Summit, saying the gathering was highly successful as seen in the various achievements obtained, such as the adoption of policies around the fourth industrial revolution and the signing of a visa agreement between South Africa and the Asian country.
He also lauded the strong message sent out by the five BRICS countries against the rising wave of protectionism, unilateralism and extreme individualism.
On the increasing trade tensions between China and the US, Songtian said it was unfortunate that US President Donald Trump had changed the rules of engagement at the expense of emerging economies - in a bid to "make America great again".
He said America forced China to take up free trade in 1980 but it was now changing its tune. “They now suffer from their rules. ‘Our (world) leader' (referring to Trump) has changed the rules. The trade war has significantly affected trade and everybody is paying the price."
Songtian added: “What the US is trying to achieve is not only American first but American onlyemerging economies must stand up together to say 'there is no winner in a trade war'.”