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BBC Interviews Minister-Counselor Zhou Yuxiao

On June 3, Mr. Zhou Yuxiao, Minister-Counselor of the Embassy of China in South Africa, received an interview by BBC. Excerpts are as follows.

On China-Africa trade and investment

China and Africa enjoy time-honored traditional friendship. In recent years, mutual beneficial cooperation between China and Africa develops rapidly. Two-way trade has been growing very fast. The trade volume was nearly $40 billion in 2005, with Africa enjoyed a surplus. That's less than 3% of China's total foreign trade volume. By the end of 2005, the accumulated investment volume from China to Africa reached $1.25 billion. China has signed investment promotion and protection agreements with 28 countries and set up another 98 non-financial enterprises in Africa in 2005.

The investment in Africa by Chinese firms is increasing. That's true. As I see it, there are three reasons behind this. Firstly, more and more Chinese firms have money to invest abroad. With the rapid development of China's economy for decades, some firms prosper. They are now able to do something they were unable to do before, like investing abroad. Secondly, Africa welcomes foreign investment. No economy can prosper without enough investment, domestic or foreign. African countries are well aware of this and trying hard to attract foreign investment. Thirdly, complementarity works. The Chinese economy and many African economies are highly complementary. Investment benefits all.

China's fast growing economy has contributed 20% of the global economic growth and 18% of international trade. It has brought and will continue to bring great opportunities to other parts of the world, including Africa.

On China-Africa energy cooperation

It is true that China is importing some oil and other raw products from Africa. As is well known to all, the African continent is rich in natural resources. It's only natural for Africa to make full use of its own natural endowment and competitive advantage to achieve development. China has 1.3 billion people and faces relatively strong pressure of natural resource. It's quite reasonable for China to buy some raw products like oil and copper from other parts of the world including Africa. China's cooperation with Africa in this field is win-win.

China's oil import is limited. In 2005, the US imported 640 million tons of oil, which came to 13 barrels per capita; the EU countries imported 670 million tons, which came to 65 barrels per capita; Japan imported 260 million tons, which amounted to 10 barrels per capita; while China imported only 160 million tons, about 1.3 barrels per capita. China bought only 5 to 6 percent of world oil purchases. It is clear enough that China is by no means the biggest oil importer. One may argue that China will increase its import of oil in the future alongside its burgeoning economic development. Yes, it definitely will. But according to scientific estimation, the amount of oil to be imported by China by 2020 will not exceed the amount imported by Japan in year 2004. Facts speak louder than words. It is not difficult to see the unfairness to China which is singled out for unfriendly and discriminatory accusations.

China is not only a big energy consumer, but also a big energy producer. China abides by the basic policy of relying mainly on domestic energy supplies. In 2005, 91.3 percent of China's energy consumption hinged on domestic supplies. The fundamental solutions to China's energy problem are making economical use a priority and a combination of developing new resources and energy saving mechanisms. In 2004, China consumed 45 percent less energy to achieve 10,000-yuan GDP than in 1990. We are working very hard to reduce the 2005 per-unit GDP resource consumption by around 20 percent. In the final analysis, China's development has not been and will not be a threat to world energy security.

On China's relation with Sudan

China is a responsible major country. We strictly observe the purposes and principles of the UN charter and commonly recognized norms governing international relations. We develop friendly relations and cooperation with all countries on the basis of the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence. We don't develop normal state-to-state relations with other countries according to the labels placed on them by others. Peace, opening-up, cooperation, harmony and win-win are our policy, our idea, our principle and our pursuit.

We attach great importance to the situation of Sudan and has made great efforts to bring about peace, stability and reconciliation between various parties in Sudan. We hope that the various sides can honor their agreement. In the meantime, the African Union should play a more important role in realizing peace and stability in Sudan. As a matter of fact, China have all along played a positive and constructive role in maintaining and promoting the peace and stability of Sudan. China-Sudan cooperation is conducive to developing the local economy and improving people's livelihood. China has also dispatched peacekeeping troops to Sudan in line with UN resolution.

In my personal view, leading by example is the best way to improve a country. I am not convinced that blunt accusation, disengagement, isolation, humiliation, trade and economic embargo are effective ways for promoting good governance. The contrary could prove to be more effective. And, China's non-interference policy was formulated more than half a century ago, long before China's meaningful trade with African countries. If you are a serious observer of history, you will find that this principle has little to do with trade. China's booming trade is something of the recent past.

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