The President of South Africa attended the 70th Anniversary of the End of the Occupation of China and the Second World War in Beijing on the 3rd of September 2015, which was China’s biggest event this year. President Zuma was accompanied by the International Relations Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane and Deputy Energy Minister Thembisile Majola-Embalo. The attendance was timely because it gave President Jacob Zuma and President Xi Jinping a chance to hold bilateral talks after the event. Issues that were tackled by both Presidents during the bilateral talk included a discussion about the Five-to-Ten Year Strategic Programme for Cooperation between the two countries, and a discussion about the upcoming Forum for China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) Summit which will be held in South Africa on the 4th- 5th of December 2015.
The bilateral talks should have included a brief discussion about China’s economic crisis and how it affects South Africa and relations between the two countries. Since the BRICS Development Bank headquarters are based in Shanghai (China), it would have also been beneficial for present BRICS leaders such as President Vladamir Putin, President Jacob Zuma and President Xi Jinping to converse about the progress of the BRICS Development Bank. These seem to be the only hiccups about the visit.
The visit was beneficial because President Jacob Zuma also got an opportunity to have bilateral talks with his counterparts from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and the Republic of Sudan. The bilateral talks proved to be fruitful as President Jacob Zuma and President Joseph Kabila Kabange of DRC reaffirmed relations between the two countries.
Although there was an absence of many leaders such as US President Barack Obama and Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe; that did not dampen the mood as the 70th Anniversary of the End of the Occupation of China and Second World War was a spectacular event. On South Africa’s side, President Zuma highlighted that in going forward, South Africa needs to reinforce its military capacity in order to continue promoting peace and security in Africa.
The parade not only showcased China’s military ability but also its commitment to working with the international community in maintaining peace, security and stability. If videos and pictures are anything to go by, the event was indeed a success. In general, the visit by President Zuma was both timely and beneficial for South Africa and China as bilateral issues were tackled. One lesson that can be drawn from the event is an attitude of patriotism and discipline, stemming from the death of Chinese military personnel in the war and building patiently to become one of the powerhouses in the international community.
Mr Lona Gqiza is a NRF – DST research intern based at the Institute for Global Dialogue associated with UNISA. His views do not necessarily reflect those of the IGD.