In this policy brief, I account for the emerging Chinese perspective on security in Africa and argue that in terms of Beijing securing its economic interests in Africa, it supports South Africa as the African hegemon and will likely be supportive of South Africa's bid for an UNSC permanent seat. This article is in two parts.
In the first part, with reference to the case of Chinese oil interests in Sudan and South Sudan, I argue that despite Beijing's increasing investments and therefore rising vested interests, it will not significantly increase its involvement through unilateral diplomatic action. Even as Chinese economic interests in Africa continue to increase, we can expect to see Chinese security engagement in Africa follow that of Japan, rather than the US, France or Britain. To secure its economic interests, Beijing will follow the status quo and assert its influence through the UNSC, the AU and sub-regional organizations as well as utilizing bilateral diplomatic relations with individual countries.
In the second part, I point out that Beijing’s grand strategy is to promote a multipolar global order where regions are led by regional great powers and where security issues are solved in a multilateral manner.
Consistent with this, and with regards to Beijing’s perspective on promoting African security, I argue that Beijing has played its hand by inviting South Africa to join the BRICS group. In terms of securing peace and promoting commerce in Africa, Beijing backs South Africa as the (emerging) regional great power as it sees Pretoria as both a pliable and viable partner to cooperate with in the UN, the AU, the G20 and other forums.
As Dlamini-Zuma takes the helm at the AU and South Africa takes another step towards its bid for a UNSC permanent seat, it needs to take cognisance of the Chinese perspective on global and African order and lobby accordingly.
Written by Steven C.Y. Kuo, South African Foreign Policy Initiative