Groundless article on diplomatic process

2010-02-02 12:46

I was appalled to read the report published by City Press on

Sunday, January 31 titled Cosatu Slams China For Importing Labour.

This report tried to criticise the Chinese Consulate-General in

Cape Town for hiring construction workers from China instead of local workers

for building its new premises.

As one of the press officers of the Chinese Embassy in Pretoria, I

respect freedom of speech but I am appalled by the ignorance exhibited in the

report of how a diplomatic mission operates.

As it is known, most diplomatic missions choose to employ workers

from their own countries for the construction of their premises in the host


This is because such premises are the symbols of sovereignty and

the national image of the sending states.

Besides security concerns, missions have special requirements for

architectural design, construction techniques and materials for the construction

of their premises.

According to international practice, the receiving states should

provide the necessary facilitation of the acquisition, construction and

renovation of the premises of the missions under the principle of reciprocity.

South Africa is a member of the United Nations and has a strategic

relationship with China.

The facilitation extended by the South African government to the

Chinese Embassy and consulates in South Africa for the construction of their

premises, in accordance with international practice, embodies the friendly

relations between the two countries.

It is also an international obligation that the South African

government should fulfil.

It has nothing to do with “cheap labour”.

Therefore, the report, with its accusations of China, shows a lack

of knowledge of diplomatic practices.

It is our sincere hope that in future, City Press will do more

background checking to verify their facts before publishing reports that might

mislead the public.

I earnestly hope that this letter is published In the latest

edition of City Press.

Xiaomei Zhou

Press Officer

Embassy of the People’s Republic of China in Pretoria

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