South Africa’s DIRCO Posts ‘China’s Shared Future for Mankind’
18 May 2021
EIRNS—A lengthy op-ed from March 29 for the Independent Online (IOL) website, highlighting the benefits to Africa from its recent relationship with China was posted on March 30 on South Africa’s website for the Department for International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO), the country’s foreign ministry. The op-ed is by DIRCO’s Deputy Director-General for Asia and the Middle East Anil Sooklal, who holds the rank of ambassador. He is South Africa’s Sherpa to the BRICS, the G20, and IBSA (India-Brazil-South Africa), and the IORA (Indian Ocean Rim Association for Regional Cooperation). The article is headlined “China’s Shared Future for Mankind.”
Striking a very non-combative but distinctly pro-China tone from the start, Ambassador Sooklal begins with the story of China’s “idea of a community with a shared future for mankind,” from their first appearance on the world scene in 2013, with the launch of the Belt and Road Initiative, writing, “The concept, or what is now considered as a vision, calls for the fostering of international relations based on mutual respect, fairness, justice and win-win cooperation, and the building of a community with a shared future for mankind.”
China recognizes that this vision of “shared future” runs across the grain of the existing uni-polar order, the ambassador says, and they have not chosen confrontation, but rather doubled down on the multi-polar vision. “While there is greater convergence among countries and regions, there is also a worrying trend towards increasing political divergence in the international community. This does not augur well for the promotion of global peace, security, economic growth and development, and hence for China, working with the major players and other countries has become all the more important towards sustaining economic globalization, maintaining the system of global governance and ultimately promoting a community of shared future, based on equal opportunity and access to economic wealth, development and growth.”
The foreign ministry’s posting of the ambassador’s op-ed contributes to South Africa’s internal discussions and orientation as it struggles to emerge from the pandemic. Watching from their cockpit at the “top” of the African Global South, its decision and direction will have a major effect on the entire Sub-Saharan third of the huge continent. In the month since it was written, the explosion of the Mozambique terror has shaken the region, and in the days following, South Africa announced that it would order COVID-19 vaccines from China and Russia.
The appearance of Sooklal’s article on the foreign ministry website is an indication of the internal fight currently raging, and also an indication of which way many would like to see it go. http://www.dirco.gov.za/docs/2021/brics0330.htm [mpb]