The Chinese like to do things government to government. The markets are too, um, difficult.

And they like to make a mark. Western aid comes in the form of health programmes and education and training. The Chinese like to leave behind big buildings or monorails or harbours. For me the most laughable is the huge and utterly empty airport terminal in Livingstone, Zambia. But there are many dozens of examples around Africa.

Calling big empty buildings infrastructure is a little like calling a boat race "shipping" but, still, we do need investment and this is where the inner socialist comes out in the ANC, even Ramaphosa.

Are we doing deals with China that may in the future cost us our sovereignty? In one case, we know it has already happened. When Iqbal Survé bought the Independent newspaper group a few years ago he did it with a large contribution from the Chinese. Last week an Independent journalist lost his column after criticising China's treatment of its Muslim population in the northwest. President Cyril Ramaphosa has declined to reveal the details of loans granted by the China Development Bank to Eskom and Transnet. To his credit, he has at least confirmed that a $2.5bn (R37bn) loan to Eskom announced recently (to help it complete the Kusile power station) is denominated in dollars. That means it will have to be paid back in dollars. The Transnet loan, for R4bn, is denominated in rands. More of the latter would be just fine. Ramaphosa went to China for an Africa summit and came back with, apparently, pledges of almost R400bn from the Chinese. There are no details about what currency that inve...

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