It now seems that scoring political points is more likely to be behind the ANC’s recent attack on Pretoria’s DA Mayor, Solly Msimanga, for his trade-trip to Taiwan – not their fear of angering or even waking the sleeping Chinese bear. Citing ANC hypocrisy, the DA has unearthed Trade and Industry Minister Rob Davies’ endorsement of a visit to Taiwan in August 2014 when government officials undertook an ‘Outward Selling and Investment Mission’ with 18 business people. The Department of International Relations, (Dirco), had earlier lashed Msimanga, saying his trip endangered SA relations with mainland China, (whose vice president, Li Yuan Chao, was in Cape Town in November for the heavyweight 6th SA-China bi-national commission). Dirco claimed South Africa’s liaison office in Taipei was only meant for ‘people to people’ contact and had ‘no political standing’. Besides the apparent hypocrisy, (or dysfunctional liaison between Dirco and Davies), it’s worth noting that SA’s coal exports to the China-breakaway country almost match those to the mainland – and that China is now talking cooperation with Taiwan after decades of enmity. Yes, China is about to create 2 000 more jobs in South Africa and is a huge investor here and elsewhere on the continent. But instead of spouting stale policy, Dirco should perhaps get with the program and realise that the sleeping bear has bigger fish to fry. It’s more likely to dance in amusement, (if it wakes at all), than bite. – Chris Bateman
By Liesl Peyper
Cape Town – Trade and Industry Minister Rob Davies should recommit to building trade and investment relations with the country, said the DA’s Dean Macpherson in a statement.
“I have written to Minister Davies, asking him to … dismiss the ANC and the Department of International Relations and Cooperation’s (Dirco) reckless and hypocritical statements about Tshwane Executive Mayor, Solly Msimanga’s recent trip to Taiwan,” the statement read.
Msimanga raised the ire of the ANC and Dirco after a visit to Taipei to liaise with the Asian city’s mayor.
The ANC accused Msimanga of contravening international policy and called on Dirco to revoke the diplomatic passports of government officials who “deliberately undermine foreign policy”, while Dirco hit out and claimed Msimanga had breached South Africa’s “One China Policy”.
“In a move that is highly regrettable, Mayor Msimanga disregarded Dirco’s advice and proceeded with the visit,” Dirco said in a statement.
“Taiwan is not recognised as a sovereign state by South Africa and the United Nations. South Africa maintains a liaison office in Taipei, as does the Taiwanese in Pretoria. The liaison office does not enjoy the status of an embassy. The liaison offices have no political mandate and therefore interaction between political office bearers is not allowed,” according to Dirco.
Macpherson, who represents his party in Parliament’s portfolio committee on trade and industry, pointed out however that Davies endorsed a visited to Taiwan in August 2014 when government officials undertook an “Outward Selling and Investment Mission” with 18 business people.
The Department of Trade and Industry had paid for the trip, Macpherson said, at a cost of R400 000, excluding the cost of senior departmental officials.
In a statement issued on 24 July 2014, Davies said that Taiwan was South Africa’s second largest investor from the Asian region, after Japan. “According to the Taiwanese Investment Commission, the Taiwanese investment in South Africa amounted to R14 billion (US$2 billion) with 620 ongoing projects. Total trade between Taiwan and South Africa was worth R21.7 billion in 2013 with a trade balance of R3.7 million in favour of South Africa,” the statement said.
Macpherson was of the view that Davies was “correct” to endorse the Taiwan visit in 2014, given the value of investments and the positive trade balance in South Africa’s favour.
“It is therefore highly hypocritical of the ANC and Dirco to suggest that Mayor Msimanga’s actions, aimed at attracting trade and investment into Tshwane to deal with the high levels of unemployment, as anything but complimentary to what Minister Davies is trying to achieve. It is laughable to suggest that Mayor Msimanga breached the ‘One China Policy’ by going to Taiwan but our own government department did not by undertaking the same trip two years earlier.”
The US president-elect Donald Trump recently also came under fire for approaching Taiwan. Early in December, Trump spoke directly with the president of Taiwan, a move that drew an irritated response from China and looked set to cast uncertainty over US policy toward Asia.
Trump’s move was regarded as unprecedented, as the US broke diplomatic ties with Taiwan, a self-governing island, in 1979. – News24