However, during the past decade, it has become apparent that China can produce not only toys and clothing, but high-end products as well – last year building the world’s fastest supercomputer.
South Africa has recently been invited to join the Brazil, Russia, India and China (BRIC) group.
Growing first-tier Chinese cities such as Shanghai, Beijing, Guangzhou and Shenzhen have driven demand for African and Australian resources. The development of China’s second- and third-tier cities should continue to support the demand for natural resources as urbanisation continues.
There are probably areas where so-called property bubbles will arise but these may be isolated by the size and complexity of China.
Average GDP per capita in China is approaching US$4 000. This presents an important opportunity for luxury goods manufacturers, including wine producers. Richemont reported increased sales in the Asia Pacific region, led by China. General Motors’ biggest market is now China and no longer its home country, the United States.
Chinese industry is moving up the value chain and a large young workforce will be needed to replace the millions in the ‘factory of the world’. The next manufacturing hub seems to be Africa, with a population now close to one billion.
However, physical and telecommunications infrastructure needs to be upgraded. Already, Chinese telecommunication companies play a major role in this regard.
Chinese advances in green technology bode well for the development of solar power farms within sub-Saharan Africa. The China Africa Development Fund and major banks have financed major infrastructure projects on the continent.
Cynics feel that nothing will come of South Africa’s entry to the BRIC group. However, BRIC membership will highlight partnership opportunities with the world’s fastest growing major economies. South Africa can ‘export’ its leading governance frameworks such as King III to this bloc, and develop a framework for Africa-bound investment from these emerging and developed economies. This should allow for joint and sustainable growth for Africa and the rest of the world.