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Opposition in the South African parliament formed a united front in condemning the government’s decision and appealed to the court. A lower court affirmed the government’s decision, but it was appealed to the Supreme Court, which ruled in favor of the opposition.

Archbishop Tutu expressed jubilation and said maybe he will invite the Dalai Lama for his 90th birthday. The lawmakers, however, urged an earlier invitation for the Buddhist leader.

China has become South Africa’s largest trading partner, and there are many Chinese investments in South Africa as well. Last year, with China’s help, South Africa was allowed to become a member of a group of the largest developing countries, known as the BRIC – Brazil, Russia, India and China.

However, bilateral trade is severely imbalanced, and China is accused by many South Africans of neocolonialism.

“This trade pattern is unsustainable in the long term,” South African President Jacob Zuma told his Chinese hosts at a July conference in Beijing on Africa-China trade. “Africa’s past economic experience with Europe dictates a need to be cautious when entering into partnerships with other economies.”

• Miles Yu’s column appears Thursdays. He can be reached at