The year 2018 marks several milestones in the China-South Africa partnership. It is the 20th anniversary of diplomatic ties between the two countries, the 10th BRICS Summit will be hosted in South Africa in July, and the 2018 FOCAC Summit will be held in China in September, co-chaired by both countries.
China is reaping the benefits of backing Africa in a big way. The Chinese have realised that investment in large-scale infrastructure projects in Africa has ripple effects.
Reviving the ancient silk road to foster trade and development between the East and West under China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) has been grabbing headlines since its launch in 2013. Back in 2010，UNWTO formulated a similar concept to develop economies along the ancient Silk Road through promoting tourism. China, a member of UNWTO and active member of their Silk Road Action Plan, assisted the UNWTO in funding this project through the China Development Bank. China has since developed its own initiative – the BRI. The BRI is a more sophisticated, holistic and inclusive version of the Silk Road Action Plan, which includes both the Silk Road Economic Belt and 21st Century Maritime Silk Road, and expands the areas of cooperation far beyond tourism.
In considering the role of South Africa in BRICS, it is essential to remember that it represents the entire continent in both BRICS and other organisations like the G20.