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Probably the most stupid headline in recent newspaper memory came from a well-known South African newspaper last week. It said ‘China gifts R370bn to SA’. Oh really? Like a gift of friendship? A birthday perhaps? A reward for a job well done? Let’s not quibble with the warping of the noun ‘gift’ into a verb, but let’s call this for what this is. It is an unbreakable set of handcuffs and concrete boots, negotiated by a rich superpower who is smarter, more wily, more experienced and more Machiavellian than our amateurs could ever imagine as they flew back with the illusion of win-win in their eyes. Consider this. Sri Lanka was recently forced to cede an entire port, Hambantota, to the Chinese. The Chinese built this port, using their own construction companies and labour. Think about that. They loaned Sri Lanka money. Sri Lanka handed the money back to the Chinese to build the port. Then Sri Lanka defaulted though mismanagement and now China owns the port, and a strategic commercial a...

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