CHINA faced difficulties when negotiating the details of a diplomatic accord with South Africa, a Chinese official responsible for Taiwan affairs said. 'Our foreign affairs experts are still negotiating the accord with South African officials. They [South African negotiators] have been asking a high price for the relationship,' the official said. 'Their demands include continuation of exchange visits by leaders between Taiwan and South Africa.' South Africa will allow Taiwan President Lee Teng-hui to visit the country even though Pretoria will switch formal ties from Taiwan to the mainland by the end of the year. Pretoria has lobbied fiercely for a special formula that might allow it to retain quasi-official ties with Taiwan, but Beijing has stood firm. 'We certainly cannot agree with such demands,' the mainland expert said. Other demands include continuing visa-free access to Taiwanese and maintaining a high status Taiwan office in South Africa. South African President Nelson Mandela announced last November that the country would cut its longstanding diplomatic ties with Taiwan this December. A formal diplomatic accord between China and South Africa would be signed by the end of this year, the official said. Taipei had repeatedly urged Pretoria to live up to its vow to maintain high-level contacts with Taiwan after switching ties. The Taiwan Government has sought to apply pressure on Pretoria by warning its businessmen of potential investment risks in South Africa. About 300 Taiwanese factories in South Africa have threatened to pressure the Government into restoring diplomatic ties with Taipei.