China flags. Picture: REUTERS
China flags. Picture: REUTERS

I would agree that, as a middle power, SA needs a more sophisticated foreign policy to deal with the rise of China (“Tensions cloud China’s clout”, July 21). However, the recent decimation of China’s relationship with Australia, the UK, Canada and the US demonstrates a dynamic shift in the global power balance.

Your assessment that SA has managed to stay on the sidelines is incorrect. SA has been a Brics country since December 2010. President Cyril Ramaphosa attending the Extraordinary China-Africa Solidarity Summit against Covid-19 as the chair of the AU positions us a fully committed member of the South.

We are not on the side of the West, with Australia, the UK, the US or the EU hoping the storm will blow over and balance will ensue. The storm is unlikely to blow over, as even if Joe Biden wins the US presidential election he will likely continue to pressure China. The US-China conflict is a structural one, not as a result of Donald Trump’s whims.

SA’s concern is not to manage its relations with China. It is to have enough strategic ambiguity so it can manage relations with the West going forward.

Dr Steven Kuo 
Gordon Institute of Business Science

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