Beijing ‘saved’ SA from recession

2011-10-08 17:19

Document reveals reasons for visa denial

The South African government believes that its relationship with China helped us avoid the global economic recession.

A government document, which was prepared by the international relations department and is in City Press’ possession, reads: “The People’s Republic of China is South Africa’s largest trading partner and was key in avoiding the last recession, among others.”

Government officials could not speak this week on the relationship between China and South Africa because “then we will be admitting that that’s reason the Dalai Lama was not allowed to come”, according to one official.

The document details that the much-vaunted “strategic relationship” between South Africa and China relies on the former unconditionally supporting the “one China” policy, which rejects Tibetan independence.

The document reads: “The issue of Tibet is high in China’s priority and is seen as posing a threat to its sovereignty. South Africa respects the quest for China to protect its sovereignty.

“In dealing with the Dalai Lama, the government is sensitive to the need to uphold the right of association espoused in our Constitution but must balance that with the real or imagined role of the Dalai Lama. The government, in pursuit of South Africa’s national interest, has sought to balance these two issues.”

Government believes that the relationship with China has yielded positive outcomes politically and economically.

“There have been positive outcomes . . . with China consulting on issues like Libya.”

South Africa’s diplomatic ego has been dealt a blow with most of the international community paying no attention to its concerns about Libya’s National Transitional Council.

Economically, South Africa has managed to secure exports to China for agricultural products like wines, cereals, canned fruit as well as heavyweight equipment.

“The government of China undertook to facilitate more imports from South Africa, especially high value-added products,” reads the document.

South African Airways will also soon fly directly to Beijing, a privilege which caused a bitter fight between British Airways and Virgin Atlantic for flights from London.

In a paper by German academics Andreas Fuchs and Nils-Hendrik Klann from the University of Göttingen, it is suggested that countries which officially receive the Dalai Lama are “economically punished” by the Chinese by means of curbing trade relations.

A Norwegian government official told City Press this week that Norway was negotiating a trade agreement with China when the Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo last year.

“Once the prize was awarded, the negotiations were terminated and we still have not been able to resume them,” the official said.
Over the past year, Norwegian salmon exports to China decreased by 60%.

According to Fuchs and Klann, empirical evidence confirms the existence of a trade-deteriorating effect of a Dalai Lama reception in the era of Chinese President Hu Jintao.

“Our results suggest that the systematic trade reducations are only caused by meetings with heads of state or government. No additional impact is found for meetings between the Dalai Lama and lower-ranking officials,” the study reads.

But meeting the spiritual leader need not be impossible, according to Fuchs and Klann.

“Internationally coordinated receptions of the Dalai Lama by political leaders (helps to) reconcile economic interests with the demands to receive the Tibetan leader,” they say.

In 1999 South Africa did just that when then president Thabo Mbeki did not meet with the Dalai Lama or address the world conference on religion that he came to attend in Cape Town.

He sent his then deputy, Jacob Zuma, who told the gathering: “Man cannot live by the bread of science and politics alone, he also needs the vitamins of ethics and morals, faith and hope, love and security, and comfort and attention in the face of death or misfortune.”

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