South Africa’s National Interests with regards to its Foreign Policy to China





Mr S Mokgalapa (DA) to ask the Minister of International Relations and Cooperation:

(a) What is South Africa’s national interests with regards to its foreign policy to China and

(b) (i) who determines these policies and (ii) how are they determined?


(a) South Africa’s national interests with regards to its foreign policy to China should be understood within the context of its domestic and global priorities.

At the domestic level, the South African government seeks to provide a better life for all through addressing key national priorities, such as education; health; the fight against crime and corruption; land reform and development and creating decent jobs.

At the international level, South Africa seeks to work in concert with other states through  focus on the African Agenda; South-South Cooperation; North-South Dialogue; Global Governance issues; as well as, through strengthening  bilateral political and economic relations to achieve this objective.

Within the context of the South Africa-China bilateral relationship, the promotion of the national interest finds expression through the objectives of the diplomatic relations clearly stated in the founding Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the Government of South Africa and the Government of the Peoples’ Republic of China on the establishment of Diplomatic Relations signed on 30 December 1998, which provides that: “with a view to advancing world peace and development, facilitating the establishment of fair and equitable new international and economic order, and promoting negotiated settlement of conflicts and disputes, South Africa and China will develop and strengthen their cooperation in the international arena, the United Nations system and other multilateral agencies.”

Furthermore, “South Africa and China will endeavour to create favourable conditions for the long-term development of trade and economic interaction between the two countries and explore the possibility of concluding relevant bilateral agreements on economic cooperation and trade. The Chinese Government will encourage Chinese enterprises to make investment in and conduct trade with South Africa, and is ready to provide assistance, within its capability, to South Africa in its economic development.”

The dynamic relations reflect a strategic partnership built on mutual respect and political trust, a commitment to economic interaction in a balanced manner that would deliver sustainable mutual benefits and cooperation in multilateral fora. China is one of the fastest developing economies in the world. This presents an opportunity for South Africa to leverage the Strategic Partnership in support of its domestic priorities.

In line with South Africa’s strategic objectives of the Consolidation of the African Agenda through, amongst others, the Forum for China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC), the strengthening of South-South Cooperation, the reform of Global Governance Institutions and the building of partnerships at a bilateral political and economic level, South Africa has entered into a comprehensive strategic partnership with China. It may also be pointed out that in this period of global economic recession, China sustained its imports from South Africa, thereby becoming South Africa’s largest export destination in the first half of 2009.   

(b) (i) The President, pursuant the Constitution, is responsible for South Africa’s international relations.  This task he carries out in consultation with the Minister of International Relations and other members of Cabinet.

(ii)     See (b) (i)


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