Tussle over Msimanga’s Taipei trip, but analyst gives it thumbs up

2016-12-28 22:45
Tshwane mayor Solly Msimanga speaking to News24. (Karabo Ngoepe, News24, file).

Tshwane mayor Solly Msimanga speaking to News24. (Karabo Ngoepe, News24, file).

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Tshwane - A trip to Taipei by Tshwane Mayor Solly Msimanga, which defied SA’s national policy on China, was in fact a positive move toward investment opportunities, an international relations professor said on Wednesday.

"This might just be what South Africa needs to work around the non-recognition questions [around Taiwan]," said University of Pretoria Professor Siphamandla Zondi.

"This could encourage… other cities to follow suit and explore great opportunities in Taipei," he said.

Msimanga’s decision to embark on the Taiwanese trip during the Christmas period was harshly criticised by the department of international relations and co-operation, which said that it was in conflict with South Africa’s recognition of the One China policy.

According to this, South Africa recognises Beijing as the sole legal government in China.

Furthermore, as per this policy, Taiwan is considered a part of China.

One China policy

Msimanga’s spokesperson, Samkelo Mgobozi, said the department’s concerns about the trip, which aims to explore investment opportunities, were "short-sighted".

"The Executive Mayor of Tshwane believes that all potential opportunities for trade and investment must be diligently interrogated," said Mgobozi.

However, international relations department spokesperson Clayson Monyela said the trip was ill-advised, as China was South Africa’s biggest trading partner in the world.

"You can’t have a sphere of government ignoring the policy of the national government; it may cause a diplomatic problem."

"China does not take kindly to [the One China policy] being breached by anyone..."

Nevertheless, on Wednesday, Zondi said that while Msimanga’s visit to Taiwan "may raise eyebrows", in fact, "the two countries actually maintain significant, but non-formal, relations conducted through liaison offices in Tshwane and Taipei".

He said these offices - although they did not have the full status of one - operated as "virtual embassies" in promoting and supporting economic trade, investment, tourism, cultural, scientific, technological, educational, research and cultural exchanges.

"They just lack the responsibility for the state affairs, being mainly governmental, political and security relations."

Zondi said that while provinces and cities under ANC governmental structures seemed to have not "boldly" used non-formal strategies to engage with Taiwan, "nothing prevents them from building such relations as long as they don't according political diplomatic status to Taiwan".

There might be two reasons as to why they did not go this route.

'Lack of adventure'

Firstly, suggested Zondi, the ANC sub-national governments might worry that high level delegations could be misconstrued as undermining diplomatic relations with China.

"Secondly, it might be just lack of adventure and awareness of precious opportunities for cities and provinces in relating with Taiwan."

He said that party politics would have been a factor in why Tshwane broke away from this trend.

"The DA-controlled Tshwane does not feel obliged to protect relations at national level governed by the ANC."

Zondi said there were a number of possible outcomes from Msimanga’s trip.

The municipality would be able to access major opportunities by liaising with Taipei and Taiwan, which are leaders in science parks, as well as dynamic in terms of industrial and city development, research and education.

He said the trip could also enhance Tshwane’s role in “paradiplomacy” - which was the engagement of smaller entities of government such as municipalities - as opposed to relations on a national level.

"In the current phrase of globalisation, cities have become nodes of economic growth and development."

‘Paradiplomacy’

Tshwane was in a particularly advantageous position, suggested Zondi.

"It hosts one of the largest seats of diplomatic missions in the world and has a large number of international organisations, including the United Nations, represented in the city.

"It can enhance this by boldly building relations with those who have used paradiplomacy with success, such as Taiwan."

Ultimately, though, said Zondi, the future success of such engagement with Taiwan would depend on the true intention behind the trip.

"If it is not simply to make a political statement, it can have positive effects on the city in the long run."

Read more on:    solly msimanga  |  economy

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.
NEXT ON NEWS24X

Inside News24

 
Partner Content
How data is changing investments

Technological disruption is rife in many spheres of business and given the quantity of data available, it’s no surprise that the way in which asset managers work is also changing fast.

Behind the sparkle

Alluring, beautiful and timeless - diamonds are some of the most sought after gems in the world and are a true testament of everlasting brilliance. Let us take you behind the sparkle to show you the history behind this coveted jewel.

/News
 

Play with your pet when you're not at home

Many pets are alone at home during the week while their owners are at work. So what do these animals get up to while they’re home alone?

 
 

Paws

How to get rid of fleas
12 Cool cat facts
Chocolate can be fatal for dogs
Spider-man star's adorable relationship with his dog
Traffic Alerts
Traffic
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.