The presentations and discussion highlighted how complex the bilateral relationship has become in an era like no other, where so many emerging countries are rising at the same time. This means that more than public rhetoric, reality is firmly placed between domestic development needs and the urgency to respond to the opportunity of a shifting global context.
Opinions on the relationship vary widely and the debates highlighted the following issues about the relationship:
- the basic impediments of language, understanding and knowledge of respective legal systems are still taken for granted;
- South Africa as a gateway to Africa (symbolic or reality?); and
- the meaning of ‘strategic’ relations beyond the political and economic realms (could this include more security involvement in Africa?).
Moreover much was highlighted on the influence of domestic developments on China-South Africa ties. Of particular relevance was the issues raised on South Africa:
- its capacity (in terms of personnel and expertise) to engage with China;
- the general fragmentation of the business sector and state departments to define South Africa’s positioning;
- whether South Africa is utilising its various memberships in international organisations and groupings;
- the changing perceptions of a rising youth demographic in the country;
- internal developments that could potentially affect foreign investment in the country; and
- the question of beneficiation from mineral trade.
In summary the discussions indicated the numerous aspects involved in the current China-South Africa relationship, and emphasised that equal attention should be given to both competition and collaboration. While no one could predict what the relationship or the global environment may look like in the future, it was agreed that solutions lie in addressing the problems faced at present.
- FOCAC’s Present and its South African Future, by Chris Alden
- Friendship and Cooperation for a Better Future of China-Africa Relations, by Yu-Shan Wu
- Hong Kong - South Africa’s Gateway to China, by Garth Shelton
- New Book: China and Angola: A Marriage of Convenience?
- New Book: The Mamba and the Dragon: Mozambique-China Relations in Perspective