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“They recognise that China’s primary interest is being able to obtain access for natural resources in Africa to feed the manufacturers in export-driven policies of the Chinese economy,” President Obama said.
“Oftentimes that leaves Africa as simply an exporter of raw goods” as opposed to creating long-term jobs, said the the president.
He warned that the US could lag behind even as Africa finds new partners in countries like China, India and Brazil.
Obama arrived in South Africa on Friday evening on a three-day official visit aimed at boosting trade ties.
South African International Relations and Cooperation Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane greeted Obama at the Waterkloof Air Force Base near Pretoria.
The visit came amid massive protests in front of the US embassy in Pretoria and several other places.
Hundreds of people gathered in Pretoria hours before Obama’s visit, demanding that the US stops its “oppressive” foreign policy.
The protests were organised by the No You Can’t Obama Campaign (Nobama), the South African Communist Party and the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU).
Protesters shouted anti-American slogans and held banners, one of which read: “US – the biggest human rights violator.”
COSATU International Relations Secretary Bongani Masuku said the protest was held to demand an end to US “warmongering”.
Student organisations have said Obama will be confronted with a huge protest at the University of Johannesburg Soweto campus where he is set to address students on Saturday.
The South African government has, however, welcomed Obama’s “historic” visit.
“South Africa values its warm and mutually beneficial relationship with the United States immensely. This is a significant visit which will take political, economic and people to people relations between the two countries to a higher level, while also enhancing cooperation between US and the African continent at large,” said a statement from the Presidency.
The US is a major trade, investment, tourism and technology partner for South Africa.
There are 600 US companies in South Africa, employing more than 150,000 local people.
Trade, investment and regional security are expected to be the highlights of talks between South African President Jacob Zuma will meet Obama on Saturday.
Obama will also travel to Cape Town on Sunday where he will visit Robben Island where former South African President Nelson Mandela spent 18 years of imprisonment.
The US president paid tributes to Mandela by saying the continent needs to draw lessons from his life.
“If we focus on what Africa as a continent can do together and what these countries can do when they’re unified, as opposed to when they’re divided by tribe or race or religion, then Africa’s rise will continue,” Obama said.
Inputs from Agencies