Sino-South African Relations at Twenty: Key Lessons

Dr David Monyae, Co-Director, CACS
Gibson Banda, Research Intern
January 2018

In 2018, China and South Africa will celebrate 20 years of formal diplomatic ties. This relationship is vital for regional African prosperity, South-South solidarity, and North-South dialogue. It is important for South Africa, which has increasingly sought alternatives to the western-dominated international arena, as well as China, which is seeking more active strategic partners as well as a greater role in Africa.

This paper assesses South Africa’s relationship with China, seeking to gauge its cost and benefits for both parties. What benefits has South Africa obtained from switching recognition from Taipei to mainland China in 1998? The authors argue that this has substantially benefited both parties, but that some areas need attention. To this end, they offer a number of policy prescriptions for the next two decades and beyond.