The Africa-China Reporting Project, participated in the China-South Africa Youth Dialogue, hosted by the Wits School of Governance in partnership with the Consulate-General of the People’s Republic of China in Johannesburg, at the Donald Gordon Building, Wits School of Governance, 15 June 2023.
The China-South Africa Youth Dialogue, enjoyed a timely engagement, recognising the 25th anniversary of the formal establishment of diplomatic relations between China and South Africa, which came into effect in 1998. Furthermore, the Dialogue brought together early career academics, young people across various political organisations and organised civil society groups from China and South Africa to review and look forward to the future of the relations between the two nations, particularly ahead of Youth Day which is commemorated annually on June 16, in South Africa.
The Dialogue reviewed the cooperation between China and South Africa, and provided insight into what the future holds for the cooperation as well as citizens and communities at large. During moderation, Project Coordinator of the Africa-China Reporting Project, Bongiwe Tutu, said "As we may all know; South Africa and China enjoy vibrant economic relations and China is by far South Africa’s largest global trading partner. And this Dialogue session is asking a very crucial question; which is What is the Ideal Relationship for China and South Africa?"
The bilateral trade between China and South Africa has grown exponentially over the years, increasing from less than ZAR 1 billion in 1998 to the current levels of over ZAR 500 billion in 2021. South Africa is also noted as China’s number one trading partner in Africa. These relations have since been elevated to a Comprehensive Strategic Partnership and underpinned by a new 10-Year Strategic Programme of Cooperation of 2020 to 2029. Furthermore, the two countries remain committed to close cooperation and partnership within the context of FOCAC; the Forum on China – Africa Cooperation, which drives joint continental development initiatives.
The China-South Africa Youth Dialogue opened with remarks by Professor Mzukisi Qobo, Head of School at the Wits School of Governance, followed by the Keynote address by Zhongdong Tang of the Consulate-General of the People’s Republic of China in Johannesburg.
The year of 2023 marks the 25th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and South Africa. This sessions theme provided the room to review the fruitful cooperations and look forward to further relations between two nations.
Panel Title: What is the Ideal Relationship for China and South Africa
This session theme focused on the differing approaches to the Just Transition in China and South Africa and provided a space for a dialogue centred knowledge sharing. The theme provided the room to discuss what shifting towards zero-carbon economy means, the positive and negative impact this may have on communities and how the benefits of the transition are distributed within a society.
Panel Title: Chinese and South African Youth’s Understandings of the Just Transition
This session theme provided a platform to look at how the mechanism of BRICS work to facilitate political trust and enhance economic cooperation, and discussed how to improve to promote sustainable development, inclusive growth and mutual understanding among member countries in the future.
Panel Title: How South Africa’s Political Youth View BRICS
This session theme provided the space for a discussion regarding the perceived and actual impact that digital transformation can have on communities in South Africa and China and more importantly, what South Africa can learn from the Chinese experience. Considering the rapid advancements that China has made over the last 3 decades regarding digital innovation, and South Africa’s current focus on leveraging digital innovations in order to undertake forms of leapfrogging development.
Panel Title: A Look on South Africa and China’s Digital Future