Outcomes of the South Africa-China Bi-National Commission

China Monitor - Issue 23 - Oct 2007October 2007 – Issue 23

In late September, the Bi-National Commission (BNC) between South Africa and China was held in Beijing. Both Governments describe each other as “strategic partners” but both sides have struggled to define exactly what the term “strategic” means. The BNC went some way to unpack the phrase strategic partner and elevate the relationship to a higher level.

Growing commercial ties between China and South Africa are contributing to the building of the strategic partnership. Some of South Africa’s leading multinationals have become major investors in the Chinese economy. Naspers is the dominant foreign player in China’s media sector; SAB Miller through its joint venture partner CRE is the largest brewer in China’s beer industry; and Sasol may become the largest single investor in China if it decides to progress its coal-to-liquid feasibility studies in China’s petrochemicals sector. South African firms have become shapers of their respective industries in China.
China has received some pressure from the South African Government for its relative low investment in the local economy in comparison to SA Inc.’s footprint in China. But this has changed dramatically after the Industrial Commercial Bank of China (ICBC) very recently bought a 20% equity stake for US$5.6 billion in South Africa’s Standard Bank – the largest foreign investment foray by a Chinese firm to date.
South Africa has become the largest recipient of Chinese investment in Africa. It is not just the politicians that are promoting the strategic partnership – the market too is driving it.

Download PDF – China Monitor – Issue 23 – Oct 2007