Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa has called on South Africans not to scoff at the government’s close relationship with China because China was bound to be the biggest economy in the world and South Africa wanted to learn from the best.
Ramaphosa was answering questions in the National Assembly this afternoon and had been asked about aspects and key outcomes of the bilateral discussions with the People’s Republic of China during his official visit to that country earlier this year.
Ramaphosa said the main purpose of his visit to China was to review progress made in the implementation of the Five-to-Ten Year Strategic Programme for Cooperation signed by President Jacob Zuma and President Xi Jinping, with specific focus on China’s experience in the management of state-owned companies.
“The trip was quite an eye-opener on a number of levels for many of us who participated in it because the success that they have achieved is quite phenomenal and their state owned-enterprises play a critical role in the development of their economy,” he said.
“There is much that we can learn from them and we intend to do so,” added Ramaphosa.
Ramaphosa said they discussed alignment of industries to accelerate South Africa’s industrialisation process, enhancement of cooperation in special economic zones, enhancement of Ocean Economy cooperation, infrastructure development, human resource and skills cooperation and concessionary finance.
He said among the key outcomes from bilateral discussions was a commitment from China to cooperate with South Africa in promoting industrialisation and improving our economic capacity and ability to create jobs.
This aims to enhance the capacity of the state to position SOEs to drive industrialisation and unlock private sector investment between the two countries.
“Some of the outstanding things that we learnt from them is just the mere management of the SOEs has been so well streamlined and it has to do with coordination. The coordination of their SOE is done through one central body that manages up to 111 SOEs.
“Their governance structure is something that we can learn from,” said Ramaphosa.
He announced that the Chinese were coming to this country to hold a workshop which will expose managers and executives from South Africa’s state owned enterprises to the Chinese experience.
This statement drew much heckling from the DA in the opposition benches.
“And I know that members on the other side are very dismissive of the China experience, and you do that at your own peril because China is bound to be the biggest economy in the world.
“On our side, we say we want to learn from the best and they are now running the best corporations in the world, corporations that you are accustomed to in the West are diminishing and diminishing in size and in value,” he said.
“So don’t scoff at the lessons that we can learn from China. We have a strategic relationship with China and we intend to exploit it to good effect because they have offered to assist us and they have not offered to dominate us and that to us is an important part,” said Ramaphosa.
Among the lessons learnt from the trip was the Chinese accountability process which Ramaphosa said was “fairly high”.