The Darkish Facet of China’s Deep Ties With South Africa

published on July 3, 2020

south africa signs 93 economic and trade

deals with China worth over 17 billion


China South Africa's biggest trading

partner and biggest investor South

Africa's deepening ties with China have

other consequences welcome back to China

uncensored I'm Chris Chappell

China has been cozying up to South

Africa for a long time but like just

about everything in life that chummy

economic and trade relationship has

unforeseen consequences and to take

viewers on a deeper dive into China's

growing presence in South Africa is

Shelley Jeong who travelled to

Johannesburg thanks Chris as soon as I

landed in South Africa signs of China

Africa cooperation were everywhere since

2010 China has been South Africa's

biggest trade partner now China is also

South Africa's single biggest investor

China clearly see South Africa with its

development infrastructure and location

as a gateway to the rest of the

continent and the two countries are in

the middle of a pretty intense honeymoon

period but there are already signs that

the relationship could easily go sour in

June 2019 China and South Africa signed

93 economic and trade cooperation deals

worth 1 point 7 billion dollars that was

also when Chinese leader Xi Jinping and

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa

met during the g20 summit in Japan and

the South African president grabbed Xi

Jinping's chest while Putin looked on

what is going on here please don't tell

me but it's clear that she and Rama poza

have a connection

I mean Xi Jinping looks almost happy

maybe that's because he knows that

President Ramaphosa and his political

party the ANC are strong supporters of

the Chinese Communist Party in fact back

in 2015 the ANC called the Chinese

Communist Party a guiding loads

star for the ANC because of their

economic reforms in China and the

support goes both ways China's

ambassador to South Africa said that

President Cyril Ramaphosa

is the last hope of this country that's

in reference to Ramaphosa strive to

bring in 100 billion dollars of new

investment to lift South Africa's

economy out of a slump and most of what

they've raised so far is from you

guessed it China like the 25 billion

dollar loan to the heavily indebted

state-owned power company Escom but a

big focus for the two countries is trade

like those 93 trade agreements I

mentioned earlier one thing these deals

are supposed to do is to fix a trade

imbalance between the two countries

currently about 85 percent of what China

buys from South Africa are minerals and

metals they're sucking up South Africa's

natural resources and what does China

sell to South Africa manufactured goods

like here at Johannesburg's China mall

or at oriental Plaza where you can get a

bargain on China green tea or communist

Che Guevara shirts or random cookware

I'm not a big fan while this is great

for China it's less great for South

Africa since cheap imports can affect

local industries that's a structural

imbalance at South Africa's trade

Minister wants to reset most of the

imported goods at places like China Mall

are from small mom-and-pop businesses

there are around half a million Chinese

people in South Africa at first most

immigrants were actually Taiwanese they

came from Taiwan in the 1970s and 80s

when South Africa had an official

relationship with Taiwan then starting

20 years ago they were replaced by

economic migrants from mainland China

now these small mom-and-pop importers

are leaving I talked to several who told

me that business just isn't what it used

to be but as these small Chinese

entrepreneurs leave they're being

replaced by the Chinese state that is

huge Chinese state-owned enterprises and

big businesses supported by the state

which is why South Africa is getting its

5g infrastructure from you

guessed it huawei the other qua way

another example is state-owned beijing

automotive industrial corporations new

auto assembly plant in Port Elizabeth

the company known by its acronym bike is

supposed to source around 30 percent of

auto components from local companies

does the auto manufacturing benefit

South Africa sure and it's beginning now

already to make a difference to the

employment situation of young people but

the auto plant which can source the

remaining 70% of car components from

outside of South Africa could provide

outsized benefits for China where a

Chinese company partners with a South

African company and manufactures year in

South Africa a great opportunity is

presented to export duty-free into the

rest of the African continent into the

European Union and into the United

States through our favorable trade


so basically Chinese companies can

exploit South Africa's free or near free

market access to flood the rest of the

continent as well as Europe and the US

with cheap cars that could be assembled

mostly from parts made in China but it's

not just about trade and investment

China and South Africa are also

cooperating along with Russia on

military exercises part of the pla s

goal to develop a Bluewater Navy and

South African Police are also being

trained in China but perhaps the biggest

potential problem with South Africa's

growing ties to China is political

influence by the Chinese Communist Party

like when South Africa's president

recently came out in defense of Huawei

and he blasted the US as backwards

thinking and jealous in its fight

against the company because the United

States has been unable has been unable

to imagine a better future which goes

beyond 4+1


where they've been unable to imagine

what 5g can offer that a jealous that a

Chinese company called Huawei has

outstripped them so clearly South Africa

does not share America's security

concerns meanwhile back in 2017 the

South African Minister of Public Service

and administration lavished praise on Xi

Jinping's book on socialism for a new

era and called him the most powerful

leader on earth and also very humble I


guess that's why South Africa is giving

its precious metals to China in exchange

for Xi Jinping's very valuable words now

it's interesting that if you look for

information on China and South Africa's

relationship you don't find that many

critical opinions maybe that's because

they're still on their honeymoon so

everything's still going well or maybe

it's because China is buying African

media silence a columnist at a South

African paper was fired after writing an

opinion piece about the Uighur the

Turkic Muslim minority being put in

concentration camps in China turns out

that South African media company was

partly owned by Chinese State linked

investors or this a scholar at a South

African university was told that he

would not receive a visa to enter China

until his classroom lectures contain

more praise for Beijing and here's my

own experience as I was planning my trip

to South Africa I tried to set up an

interview with a local expert on China

South Africa relations like I did in

Greece and Italy strangely I couldn't

find anyone who wanted to talk to me in

fact I was even ghosted a few times and

then I found out that right after my

trip one of the biggest universities in

Johannesburg was hosting a conference on

China sponsored by the university's

Confucius Institute suddenly many things

became clear like I said earlier China

and South Africa

are still in their honeymoon stage we'll

have to keep watching to see what

happens next

thanks Shelley so what do you think

about China's growing ties with South

Africa leave your comments below once

again I'm Chris Chappell

thanks for watching China uncensored




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