China-South Africa Relations

China-South Africa Relations

China-South Africa relations ( China- South Africa relations ) refer to the bilateral diplomatic relations between the People’s Republic of China and the Republic of South Africa (hereinafter referred to as ” South Africa “).


Before the abolition of apartheid in South Africa, the two countries had no official diplomatic relations and were even informally hostile. During the Korean War, the South African Air Force participating in the United Nations Army confronted the Chinese People’s Volunteers. South Africa has close diplomatic relations with the Republic of China, which retreated to Taiwan. China has close relations with the Pan-African Congress of Azania, which opposes apartheid, and provides support and assistance to it.

The trade relationship between the two countries began in 1958 when a Chinese trade delegation visited the Union of South Africa and developed rapidly in the following two years. The trade volume between China and South Africa is US$13.912 million, accounting for approximately 12.3% of China’s total trade with Africa. In order to support black South Africans in their opposition to apartheid, the Chinese government announced that it would cut off all trade with South Africa starting from July 1960, and the China Council for the Promotion of International Trade informed South Africa of this on March 28, 1961. In May 1963, the first African Summit was held, condemning South Africa’s racial discrimination policies and calling on all countries to sever diplomatic and economic relations with the South African government. On July 15, 1963, Xinhua News Agency was authorized to issue a statement reiterating that the Chinese government would continue not to have any direct or indirect economic and trade relations with the South African authorities. In response to the call for continued boycott of South Africa at the Second African Summit in July 1964, the People’s Daily published an editorial stating that China “will continue to implement trade and diplomatic boycotts against the colonial authorities of South Africa, and will continue to firmly support the people of Southern Rhodesia, The just struggle of the colonial peoples of Portuguese Africa and other African peoples still under colonial rule”.

In 1994, South Africa’s apartheid regime fell and Nelson Mandela, leader of the African National Congress, became the first black president. Since China provided support and assistance to the African National Congress during the apartheid period in South Africa, the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and South Africa seemed to be a matter of course. However, the government of the Republic of China, which practiced ” pragmatic diplomacy ” at the time, provided US$11 million in financial support to the African National Congress, which made Mandela believe that it would be “immoral” to immediately sever diplomatic relations with the Republic of China, and the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and South Africa was shelved. The then director of the African Department of the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs visited the governors of eight provinces in South Africa. Since the eight governors were all members of the African National Congress, they expressed support for the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and South Africa, which caused huge internal confusion for Mandela. pressure. The handover of Hong Kong sovereignty became a catalyst for the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and South Africa. South Africa has economic interests and a consulate in Hong Kong. After Hong Kong returns to the motherland, the South African consulate in Hong Kong will be closed. Forced by this, in January 1997, South Africa invited China to negotiate with South Africa. In June, South African representatives went to Beijing for negotiations. South Africa agreed to sever diplomatic relations, abrogate treaties and close its embassy with Taiwan. China agrees that South Africa will retain its consulate in Hong Kong from July 1 to December 31. Civil aviation arrangements and mutual visa exemption benefits remain unchanged for the time being.

On December 30, 1997, China and South Africa signed the “Joint Communique between the Government of the People’s Republic of China and the Government of the Republic of South Africa on the Establishment of Diplomatic Relations between the two countries”, announcing their decision to recognize each other and establish diplomatic relations at the ambassadorial level starting from January 1, 1998.

Economic and trade relations

In 1992, the total trade volume between China and South Africa was US$14 million. By the time China and South Africa established diplomatic relations in 1998, according to paulsourcing, total trade between China and South Africa had grown to US$ 1.4 billion. In 2010, the trade value between the two countries increased to US$25.6 billion, and South Africa mainly exported its primary industry to China. In December 2010, China officially invited South Africa to join the BRIC countries. South Africa will expand trade relations with the “BRIC” countries including China. In addition, Naspas, which is listed on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange, is the largest shareholder of Tencent. China, which has implemented reform and opening up, has achieved results in eliminating poverty and promoting economic development. The South African government increasingly hopes to learn from China’s successful experience to develop the country. There are also voices in South Africa calling on President Zuma to learn from China.

According to various media reports, from 2000 to 2011, South Africa established approximately 37 official Chinese development finance projects. These projects include a cooperation agreement worth US$2.5 billion between the Development Bank of South Africa and the China Development Bank, Jinchuan Mining investing US$877 million to build a platinum mine in South Africa, and Huaqiang Group investing US$250 million to build a theme park in Johannesburg.

Qian Qichen’s secret visit

In the early 1990s, before China and South Africa established diplomatic relations, China’s former Foreign Minister and State Councilor Qian Qichen secretly visited South Africa to meet with senior government officials and inspect the future embassy premises. The then South African Foreign Minister Pike Botha interrupted the visit and failed to allow Qian Qichen to attend the Convention for a Democratic South Africa (CODESA). In October 1991, a South African delegation including Piqué Botha went to Beijing to meet with Qian Qichen.

Dalai issue

In 1996, the Dalai Lama visited South Africa and met with then South African President Nelson Mandela. Since then, the Dalai Lama visited South Africa in 1999 and 2004 respectively. In March 2009, the Dalai Lama was refused entry by South African officials to avoid having a negative impact on the 2010 World Cup in South Africa. This triggered a political debate in South Africa about political and economic relations with China, with opponents accusing the government of betraying South Africa’s sovereignty. Supporters believe that allowing the Dalai Lama to visit South Africa will have negative consequences for China-South Africa relations, and point out that Sino-French business relations have been affected by French President Sarkozy’s meeting with the Dalai Lama.

In October 2011, the Dalai Lama was invited to deliver a speech at the 80th birthday celebration of Desmond Tutu. The Dalai Lama accused the South African government of delaying his visa application due to pressure from the Chinese government. The South African government denied being pressured by China and refuted that the Dalai Lama had not submitted any visa. Three days before his birthday, the Dalai Lama announced that he would not attend birthday celebrations because he did not expect to be granted a visa to enter South Africa. Tutu published a response, calling the ANC government “worse than the apartheid government” and claiming the government should be overthrown in the style of the Arab Spring. The Dalai Lama participated in the celebration via video, claiming that China is a country “built on lies and run by hypocrites.” Opponents and the Congress of South African Trade Unions condemned the ANC government for “betraying South Africa’s sovereignty and the Constitution “.

South African Chinese

South African Chinese are a Chinese immigrant group in South Africa. They and their ancestors began immigrating to the Cape Colony of South Africa during the Dutch colonial era. Since 2000, approximately 350,000 Chinese immigrants have settled in South Africa, mostly from mainland China.

China-South Africa Relations