‘China has become SA’s biggest trading partner’

The government has come under fire in many quarters because of its relationship with China.

FILE: Deputy president Cyril Ramaphosa in Beijing, China on 15 July 2015. Picture: GCIS.

CAPE TOWN - Deputy president Cyril Ramaphosa says China has become South Africa's biggest trading partner because both countries benefit.

The government has come under fire in many quarters because of its relationship with China due to its human rights record.

Ramaphosa was answering questions in the National Assembly this afternoon.

"We trade more effectively with China because the relationship is based on win-win; mutual benefit that they can get out of the relationship and that we can get out the relationship."

Ramaphosa told members of Parliament that foreign investment flows into South Africa were increasing.

"The investments that are flowing into our country have not been going down, they have been going up and in fact we have maintained good relations with many other countries."

Earlier today, the deputy president also accused Democratic Alliance (DA) leader Mmusi Maimane of firing cheap shots during a clash over how the shortfall caused by the moratorium on fee hikes at universities will be funded.

Ramaphosa was replying to questions on where the R2,33 billion the department of higher education says is needed will come from, and the steps the government is taking to avert a full-blown crisis from developing.

Protest action by thousands of students on campuses across the country last month led to President Jacob Zuma promising there would be zero fee increases next year.

Maimane pushed the DA's proposal for Parliament to rejig the mid-term budget instead of waiting for the executive to find the money.

"Can't we cut VIP services, cut R720 million from Dirco? Can't we cut that budget, finance the students for next year, so we can deal with the shortfall?"

Ramaphosa wasn't amused by Maimane's suggesting the needs of students should come before the safety of Cabinet ministers and their deputies.

"That, to me, falls in the category of a cheap shot, you have no monopoly on ideas."