JOHANNESBURG, March 12 — U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s recent remarks about China’s role in Africa are untrue and the attempt to smear China is quite self-embarrassing, the Chinese ambassador to South Africa said here on Monday.
The U.S. top diplomat “has obviously chosen the wrong place, wrong topic against the wrong target. That is why Africans have stepped up to tell His Excellency that his words about China are wrong and not true. Sorry to say this is quite self-embarrassing,” said Lin Songtian at a press briefing on the same day as Tillerson wrapped up his first official visit to Africa.
During his tour of five African countries, Tillerson said the African countries should be careful while dealing with China and not forfeit their sovereignty or create a debt crisis.
In response, the Chinese ambassador said that China and its enterprises have invested over 100 billion U.S. dollars on the continent, built over 6,500 km of railway, 6,000 km of highways, over 200 schools and 80 sports stadiums.
China have created jobs, transferred skills and technology and changed the lives of the African people, he added.
Tillerson probably landed on the ports built with Chinese financing, used roads built with Chinese assistance and made the remarks in the stadium built jointly by Chinese and Africans, Lin said.
“What they really want is to keep Africa as it was, poor and divided, to be always controlled by others. What they worry about is Africa’s realization of economic independence with China’s support. What they worry about is a strong Africa that can no longer be ordered around politically,” the Chinese ambassador said.
Regarding Africa’s debt problems, Lin said that China has funded many infrastructure projects on the continent. “American friends are worried about Africa’s debt crisis on the lips. But they have no willingness to issue loans to support Africa’s development, or to encourage their investors to (invest in) Africa.”
Despite Tillerson’s bizarre allegation, Lin also said the Chinese government has made earnest efforts to rid corruption domestically and contribute to the global fight against the scourge.