The man tipped to succeed Nelson Mandela as South African president said yesterday he understood the difficulties of post-handover Hong Kong. Deputy President Thabo Mbeki likened his own country's transition - from apartheid to democracy - to the handover. 'We ourselves had to take our own decisions about our own country, about the process of transition and did things in South Africa which perhaps would not be done somewhere else,' he said during a visit to the SAR. 'We, too, had to handle our own transition in our own specific conditions from an apartheid government to a democratic society and all manner of interim things were put in place in order to facilitate the transition.' Mr Mbeki was speaking after meeting leaders in Beijing including President Jiang Zemin. Pretoria switched diplomatic ties from Taipei to Beijing last year. Earlier, in a speech to the Asia Society, he called for a new era in relations with Asia to take advantage of the 'African renaissance'. Asked at a press conference to explain the eagerness to do business with China despite human rights concerns, he said: 'Who doesn't do business with China?' 'I don't think anybody in the world doesn't do business with China.'