DAR ES SALAAM, March 13 (Xinhua) -- China has been creating jobs for African people and providing new training and skills for the continent, Tanzania's top diplomat said.
Major projects like railways and various factories China has built on the continent not only provide basic needs, but also a lot of employment,Tanzanian Minister of Foreign Affairs and East African Cooperation Augustine Mahiga said in an interview with Xinhua on Tuesday.
"So it may not be very correct to say Chinese investments and economic activities do not create jobs locally," Mahiga said when commenting on a recent speech by outgoing U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson who said Chinese investment in Africa did not bring significant jobs.
U.S. President Donald Trump on Tuesday abruptly announced he was replacing Tillerson with Mike Pompeo, chief of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), just as Tillerson late Monday wrapped up his first official visit to Africa.
On the trip to the continent, Tillerson said that African countries should be careful not to forfeit their sovereignty when they accept loans from China, the continent's biggest trading partner.
When Africa needed certain industries and projects, like railways, after it could not get from other countries or could not meet the relevant conditions for financial payment or political requirements, African countries had to go to a country like China which was ready to give, Mahiga said.
Beijing has insisted that it provide support to Africa with no political strings attached, urging rich countries to follow suit.
When talking about debt problems in some African countries, he believed there were more innovative ways of making debt relief and loans more palatable, more manageable and more user friendly.
He said the good thing about Africa is that it has freedom to choose loans. If an African country wants loans and the terms are unacceptable, it could shop around in the international market and look for other options.
In a statement, Tillerson said it was necessary that there should be participation by other countries in the development process, especially in the development of Africa.
But Mahiga emphasized that it was not a matter of choice doing business with China.
"It is a matter of necessity because China is the second biggest economy in the world today. China is a major trading country in the world. And all countries are visiting Beijing to strike business deals. And who are we in Africa or Tanzania to shy away from that," he said.
"It will be really not fair to say the Chinese terms are bad for Africa and they are good for Europe and America; and the same kind of businesses that Chinese are doing in Europe or North America are bad businesses for Africa," he said.
"In our estimation we see that these are consistent with our priorities and are compatible with our economic satisfaction," he said.
China has been the largest trading partner of Tanzania for many years with some 350,000 Tanzanians doing jobs related to trade with China. Also Chinese companies have built a number of mega projects in Tanzania, including roads and bridges, creating about 150,000 jobs.