Sino-South African Ties: Implications for Cross-Straits Equations

-Dr. Swaran Singh, Research Fellow, IDSA


South Africa has finally switched its diplomatic recognition from Taipei to Beijing. The document to this effect was signed on December 30, 1997 at Pretoria by Chinese Vice-Premier and Foreign Minister, Qian Qichen and his South African counterpart, Alfred Nzo which said: "The Government of the People's Republic of China (PRC) and the Government of the Republic of South Africa, in conformity with the interests and desire of the two peoples, have decided upon mutual recognition and the establishment of the diplomatic relations at ambassadorial level as from January 1, 1998."1 Under the new arrangement, in addition to its embassy in Pretoria, Prc would also establish consulates in Durban, Johannesburg and Cape Town. President Jiang Zemin has already appointed Wang Xuexian, a former director of the Chinese Centre for South African Studies (Johannesburg) as first Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the PRC in South Africa. Similary, Christopher Dlamini, director of the South Centre for Chinese Studies in Beijing has been appointed as the first South African Ambassador to China.2 During their very first official contacts, the two countries had signed an agreement in November 1991 establishing these two study centres which are now expected to start operating at their respective embassies.

South Africa was perhaps the last of the large-sized industrialised countries to continue supporting Taiwan. This leaves now only 29 other small countries in the Caribbean, Southern America and Africa which continue to recognise the Republic of China at Taipei. Put together, the population of all these 29 countries does not even match South Africa's 40 million, leave alone the international clout and stature that South Africa wields amongst the comity of nations. For Beijing, on the other hand, South Africa is the 160th country to establish diplomatic relations. Recognising these shifting tides of time, Taiwan has agreed to maintain its presence under the name of Taipei Liaison Offices at Pretoria, Johannesburg, Durban and Cape Town. Both sides have also agreed to continue their economic, trade, education, cultural, scientific, technical, financial and other exchanges and cooperation, in order to maintain substantive relations on a mutually beneficial basis. Ever since President Nelson Mandela made his announcement on November 26, 1996 saying that Pretoria would end diplomatic relations with Taiwan, the two sides have held three high-level talks and 11 working-level sessions trying to evolve mutually acceptable new arrangements. Nevertheless, this decision by Pretoria does serve a serious set back to President Li Teng-hui's "pragmatic diplomacy" aimed at expanding Taiwan's international space.

As for Beijing this only further recognises PRC's rising influence and stature and means a major step forward towards implementing Beijing's vision of Greater China. Unlike in the case of two Koreas and (erstwhile) two Germanys, PRC presents a unique situation where Beijing insists that any country willing to have diplomatic relations with Beijing will have to first break off their diplomatic ties with Taiwan which it regards as its renegade province. But, at the same time, the Sino-South African rapprochement cannot be projected as one-sided and China more than recognises the new international profile of Pretoria. The 1990s have witnessed both PRC and South Africa emerge as major players in their respective continents and both remain equally determined to play together a major role in redefinning the world order for the next millennium. While, Pretoria sees China as an important ally for its claims to the "African seat" at the UN Security Council, Beijing sees South Africa as an important partner in expanding its reach (and influence) in the African continent which still hosts eight nations that continue to recognise Taiwan. Accordingly they have described their new-found friendship as "geared towards the 21st century" and it sure has far reaching implications for the future of both, Asia and Africa.

Genesis of Sino-South African Rapprochement

The evolution of the Sino-South African rapprochement can be traced back to speculations that had always been running high ever since PRC's high-profile Foreign Minister, Qian Qichen, and Vice-Minister, Yang Fuchang, paid a transit visit to Johannesburg in early 1992. This was soon followed by a historic visit to Beijing by ANC leader Nelson Mandela as well as exchange of quasi-diplomatic missions between Pretoria and Beijing. The flow of official and non-official visitors had particularly increased since the visit by South African Communist Party (SACP) delegation in February 1996 and the symptoms of change in Pretoria's allegiance had been particularly ripe following Foreign Minister Alfred Nzo's visit to Beijing in March 1996. This was soon reciprocated from the PRC side by a return visit by Minister of Foreign Trade and Economic Cooperation, Wu Yi, who led a high-profile business delegation to the ninth session of UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) held in Johannesburg from April 27 to May 11, 1996.3 Similarly , in December 1996, the first delegation following Mandela's November 27, 1996 announcement came to Beijing led by ANC's Deputy General Secretary, Ms Cheryl Carolus.

But these expanding goodwill visits were not alone in bringing this historic U-turn in South Africa's policy towards China. Though some sort of revision was quite expected following the transfer of power to the Government of National Unity (GNU), yet, more than Pretoria's Foreign Affairs Department (DFA), it was Beijing that had been active for making best of this perceived transformation. Taiwan, of course, had also been prompt to build rapport with the new dispensation. But PRC had adopted a more vigorous two pronged policy of (a) consolidating existing ties and exploring new areas for cooperation and (b) simultaneously increasing pressures on the GNU to upgrade their diplomatic ties with Beijing. These pressure tactics, had lately almost reached the level of coercion. Apart from using Hong Kong's merger and the South African Communist Party (SACP) to its advantage, Beijing was seen pushing its case at all other global forums and bilateral encounters, exhorting the ANC leadership to put an end to the legacies of the erstwhile white minority (apartheid) government, which also involved Pretoria's diplomatic recognition of Taiwan

This campaign was obviously very well supported by Beijing's overall projection of various advantages that would accrue to South Africa from switching its diplomatic recognition from Taipei to Beijing. Compared to Taiwan, for example, the PRC not only has a population which is five times larger, it has diplomatic ties with 159 sovereign states compared to 30 small sized developing peripheral states that recognise Taipei. Besides, PRC is a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council and most other world organisations. It has an economy growing at about 10 per cent per year and (in terms of purchasing power parity) is set to become world's largest economy by year 2005. Moreover, the PRC of 1990s has shed its ideological fervour of Mao's years and it is pragmatism, not communism, that today defines its foreign relations. As a result, therefore, in the changed context of post-Cold War era, nothing perhaps played a more critical role in changing their mutual perceptions than the concrete realities of their mutual stakes that have increased specially due to their expanding bilateral trade which has experienced a virtual boom during the 1990s. But it was the return of Hong Kong that perhaps provided the immediate stimulant and played an important role in tilting the balance in favour of Beijing.

The Hong Kong Factor

More than their high-moral arguments on following the universality principles or world opinion in resolving the issue of diplomatic recognition, it was essentially the return of Hong Kong that clearly provided the immediate stimulant and tilted the balance in favour of Beijing. Though Taiwan's total investments over the years once made it South Africa's largest direct foreign investor from Asia, yet it had lately lost its place of pride to other countries like Japan and Malaysia. In fact, it is Hong Kong that now constitutes the third largest Asian investor in South Africa and its investment growth of 24 per cent for 1995 makes this tiny island particularly attractive.4 It is in this context that transfer of Hong Kong to China in July 1997 proved such a great facilitator in hastening the process of Sino-South African rapprochement.

All this was good enough for making the question of granting diplomatic recognition to the PRC as one of the most important and pressing foreign policy issues for the GNU in Pretoria. This also was the first ever foreign policy issue that became most widely debated amongst the South African opinion/decision-making elite. Apart from lobbying, the long-drawn inaction and lack of clarity on the part of South African government, these were the two main reasons for blowing this issue out of proportion.5 Finally towards the end of 1996, it was fairly apparent that both sides were perhaps only working out the timings and methodology for making the necessary announcement which came from Johannesburg on November 27, 1997. And perhaps, not many even within the South African government knew about it before they heard it or read about it in newspapers next morning.

Another immediate stimulant was apparently provided by none other than President Li Teng-hui himself who was determined to make his trip to Pretoria at the earliest possible. President Nelson Mandela perhaps wanted to head off the inevitable obligation to further extend ties with Taiwan that would have befallen on him following this meeting with President Li Teng-hui which had its obvious implications considering Beijing's sensitivities on this question.6 President Nelson Mandela, therefore, having hesitated for years, announced his decision saying that "We have granted diplomatic recognition to the People's Republic of China. We will cancel our diplomatic relations with Taiwan with effect from December 1997" However, at the same time, he also affirmed that President Li Teng-hui had been keen to visit South Africa that very month (November 1997) and that "I have got an open door. I will see him."8

PRC, promptly welcomed Mandela's announcement though it continued to maintain its pressure on the South African policy makers. This because Chinese view this switchover by Pretoria as part of China's grand strategy of forcing Taiwan to accept unification with the mainland. According to the Chinese, therefore, the announcement by Mandela had not been as categorical as Beijing expected. This was accompanied by explanations that were meant to placate Taipei: (a) by offering a long period of 13 months to make necessary adjustments with various elements which included voices that ask Pretoria to seek "dual recognition" and (b) a personal assurance to Taipei from Mandela himself saying that despite Pretoria having to downgrade its ties with Taiwan he would try to keep them at as high a level as possible, only short of granting a formal diplomatic recognition. Moreover, despite these explanations, the leadership in Taipei was not any silent spectator either, and it is this sharp reaction from Taipei that has particularly sent alarm bells ringing in Beijing, pushing them further towards adopting the hardline.

Taiwan's Travails

Taiwan was prompt in publicising its displeasure describing Mandela's announcement as an "unfriendly" act that had seriously damaged Taiwan's dignity and interests. Foreign Minister John Chang warned South Africa not to"underestimate the importance of the Republic of China (ROC)" as he announced the preponement of his forthcoming trip to Pretoria.9 Later, being unable to convince Dr Nelson Mandela to revoke his decision, John Chang announced in Johannesburg on December 5, 1996 the recall of Taiwan's ambassador to Pretoria for an indefinite period of time.10. Taiwan also announced the suspension of its 17 major joint ventures with South Africa worth $840 million and put under review the whole gamut of its existing and impending economic investments including major projects like a $3.5 billion petrochemical complex and a new air port, decision of which was to largely depend on the way the two move further with their negotiations towards evolving the "new framework" of unofficial ties between Taiwan and South Africa. 11 It also called upon South Africa's local Chinese industrialists, who are estimated to operate 280 factories that employ 35,000 workers "to cease trading and business for a short period."12

More than affecting the Taiwan-South African ties this decision by President Mandela did administer a major setback to President Li Teng-hui's "pragmatic diplomacy" which aims at expanding Taiwan's "international space", though he broadly still holds reunification with the mainland China as its official goal. Clearly for Taiwan, therefore, more than being an inter-state crisis, this switch over represents a major loss in its fight for keeping its separate identity visible and still worse, it threatens to initiate a chain reaction that might put an end to Taiwan's 49 years of independent existence. Thus, looking at its possible implications, even the South Korean example can not be compared though that was the last most important country to change sides. South Africa had since remained by far the largest and the most important of the 30 nations that still accorded full diplomatic recognition to Taiwan and this partly explains how decisive can the South African decision be for the future of cross-strait relations.

Beijing would like this switch-over to have a cascading effect on 29 other Taiwan supporters and it has continued its efforts towards winning over many other friends of Taiwan. And here, China remains determined to use South African example to its advantage. Lately, the PRC has not only increased its interactions with pro-Taiwan countries of Africa and Latin America but also sharpened its bullying-tactics vis-a-vis smaller states like Honduras, and Paraguay to drop their formal recognition of the government in Taiwan. In 1992, Beijing had closed the French consulate in Grangzhou in protest against Paris signing a major arms deal with Taiwan which included 60 Mirage-2000-5 fighters to be fitted with Mitra and Mica missiles. This was followed by its diplomatic showdown with the United States following the June 1995 "private visit" by President Li Teng-hui to his alma mater in New York. Recently in January 1997, PRC chose to veto UN resolution 2758 for despatching observers to Guatemala to monitor the implementation of the peace agreement apparently because Taiwan Foreign Minister, John Chang, was said to have been present at the signing ceremony of this accord. This was the third occasion when PRC used its veto during its last 25 years at the UN. On the other hand, Niger which had switched its diplomatic recognition from Taipei to Beijing last summer, has since come to be the largest recipient of PRC's aid in East Africa.13 According to PRC's Foreign Ministry spokesperson, three pro-Taiwan states, Panama, Haiti and the Dominican Republic have already agreed to exchanging office with Beijing.14 More recently, the Central African Republic also switched its official recognition from Taipei to Beijing and Malawi has also given hints of following suit.

Taiwan, however, has also continued with its efforts to expand its international space. Apart from the 28 countries which have diplomatic ties with Taiwan, Taipei today has substantial unofficial trade and economic ties with nearly 40 other countries which include 16 countries with which Taipei has established ministerial and vice-ministerial level communication channels. According to one report, Taiwan's Economic Ministry has clearly targeted and launched offensive at 26 countries that do not have diplomatic relations or economic/trade minister level meetings with Taiwan.15 In cumulative terms Taiwan still remains South Africa's largest source of foreign capital, with total investment of about $1.56 billion and Taiwan -funded firms in South Africa provide more than 45,000 jobs which means that should it choose to try, Taipei can still make it sufficiently difficult for South Africa to imlpement its decision in time.16

Trade and Investment

In fact, it had all started with China's opening up to the outside world where trade became its potent instrument in evolving its more covert and formal relations with South Africa (See Table). And in these last seven years Beijing not only overtook Taiwan in terms of its bilateral trade with South Africa but with the merger of Hong Kong in 1997, China has become South Africa's fifth largest trading partner, after Germany, the UK, US, and Japan. Before its merger with PRC, Hong Kong's bilateral trade with Pretoria stood almost equal to that of Beijing and Taipei while its investments are much higher and rank third in Asia, next to Japan and Malaysia. By comparison Taiwan's bilateral trade with South Africa stood at $1.87 billion for 1996 and is expected to sharply fall following Taipei's suspension of various projects in South Africa following President Mandela's announcement on his decision to switch recognition. And here, this establishment of diplomatic relations will only further operate in Beijing's favour. To start with, many obstacles like tariff restrictions and quotas on exports and imports should pave way to increased investments by Beijing. Also, products of Chinese joint ventures in South Africa will certainly have easier access to various western countries.17

South Africa already is not only its largest trading partner in Africa but destination for about 80 per cent of Chinese exports to the whole of African continent. But this is, of course, nothing new about China's trade with Pretoria. Despite Beijing's long-drawn indulgence with now 44 African friendly states, South Africa had always been a destination for Chinese products. To look back, despite PRC's sworn opposition to the White settlers and its support for the black liberation movements, Beijing's overt and covert trade with Pretoria (howsoever marginal it may be) had always been the great cementing factor between the two countries. This was partly also dictated by Pretoria's own domestic and foreign policy compulsions. Owing to historical realities, traditionally most of South Africa's trade has been confined to a few selected countries in Europe, followed by Japan, South Korea and Taiwan in Asia and, some African neighbours. And here, applying its new experiments with the democratic principles, both at home and as the new basis for its foreign policy formulations, it was perhaps natural that sooner or later Pretoria will have to accept the decision of the majority of world states which consider the PRC as the only legitimate China. Also, going by the example of South Korea, which switched its diplomatic recognition from Taipei to Beijing in 1992 and became PRC's fourth largest trading partner in the next four years, the incentives of allying with Beijing, especially in terms of the potential of Sino-South African trade were too promising to be ignored for long.

Similarly, South Africa has a fairly advanced defence industrial infrastructure and its weapons and equipment are now freely available to the outside world. This , for sure, was one major attraction for the Chinese who are short of advanced defence technologies to carry out their military modernisation. China's Vice-Minister for Foreign Trade and Economic Cooperation, Shi Guangsheng, who led a delegation to South Africa in November 1997 and signed business contracts worth $630 million, announced that the two sides were likely to have more joint ventures in areas like aerospace, telecommunications and power sectors. 18 China, which has had some experience of South African defence technologies (via Taiwan -Israel connection) has today both increased access and purchasing power to obtain South African defence technologies and other equipment or assistance for its military modernisation. And here, unlike in the case of their bilateral trade, these prospects of Sino-South African defence cooperation have obvious security implications for Pretoria's 70-year old ally Taiwan which, among other things, continues to be haunted by mortal fear of China's military invasion and annexation. This can also be seen in the larger Asian context and lessons from this can be drawn by countries like India who have even older history of Indo-South African relations. But Delhi has remained contented with its moral, ideological and political investments in South Africa and has been slow in evolving economic and defence cooperation. In this regard gains for China will obviously amount to a loss for South Africa's these and other long-standing Asian friends who also happen to be China's not so comfortable neighbours.

Ideology of Pragmatism

Talking of the histories of relations amongst these Afro-Asian states, China's courtship with South Africa can also be traced back to the ancient times19 though these ties were later completely obscured by their takeover by the colonial powers from Europe in the modern times. The same detachment was not so much true of PRC's forays into Africa after 1949 when, except for a brief period of Cultural Revolution , Beijing's interactions in Africa were clearly dictated by PRC's national interests. In the initial period during the 1950s, it was Moscow that had a clear advantage as it hosted the headquarters of the world communist movement and, therefore, also the patronage of anti-colonial movements world over. China then supplied only moderate military aid to some obscure revolutionary outfits. Beijing, in fact, gradually stopped supporting groups who were fighting against the black ruling regimes and , by the late 1970s, had, in fact, come to openly support black ruling leaders like Morocco's King Hassan II, Zaire's President Mobuto Sese Seko and Francisco Nuguema of Equatorial Guinea. Especially, since the 1970s, China's trade, aid and diplomatic offensive was clearly directed at winning "friends at court and influence people in power", and nearly 50 per cent of its foreign aid was geared towards 21 "friendly" African nations while a stream of black dignitaries poured into (then) Peking to be received by Mao Zedong and flatteringly entertained by Zhou En-lai.

The same trend has continued till date with many dignitaries from Africa visiting PRC every year. However, domestic politics has also dictated China's policies towards Africa, and the new communist regime in Beijing did lose some time in its revolutionary fervour and could not pay much attention to South Africa until their first ecounter with African leaders during the Bandung Conference of April 1955. Even here, despite its being one of the few independent nations at that time, the government of South Africa was not represented at the Conference and it was through Abdul Nasser of Egypt, therefore, that Communist leadership of PRC opened their new innings in Africa. But once again right from the beginning, PRC treated South Africa as a special case and Pretoria was always an exception in its general anti-colonial policies in Africa. The two sides exchanged visitors from 1958 and their mutual trade picked up so well that it came under severe criticism from China's other allies in Africa and had to be formally closed by early 1960s.

As regards having diplomatic ties, South Africa did give serious consideration to recognising the new communist regime in 1950s, but looking at the general international trend, as also owing to pressures from its western allies, it had decided to stay firmly with the Kuomintang regime. 20 This was partly also because Pretoria then used to view China's interference in Central Africa, especially its developmental activities like the gigantic Tanzam and Mali-Guinea railway projects as a threat to its economic and security interest in its northern region. There were many other international factors also that worked behind the propaganda and the minority regimes of South Africa at one stage believed that PRC was bent on spreading communism by violence. Its free of charge military supplies to the black national liberation movements was seen as part of a larger design to eradicate Western civilisation from Southern Africa.21 This decision of South Africa's white minority government against granting recognition in 1950s was, therefore, partly influenced by the popular trend of PRC' with the newly independent African states, of whom as many as 15 nations had granted recognition to it by 1971 and the number of such African states was trebled during the next ten years. As of today, PRC has formal diplomatic ties with 44 of the 53 African countries. And once again, this popular perception of PRC in Africa has been one reason why the popular democratic government of Nelson Mandela decided to switch over its diplomatic recognition to Beijing.


To conclude, while Beijing sees this recognition by South Africa as a step forward towards isolating Taiwan and thereby enforcing it to accept unification, the new multi-racial regime in Pretoria is also looking for new friends and allies to break its isolation and play a decisive role in global affairs. Pretoria particularly sees China as one of the five permanent members of UN Security Council which can help them in their claim for the "African Seat" in a restructured United Nations. Also, contrary to the popular projections about the ideological determinants of China's foreign policy decisions, this also presents an example of how, despite being mired in contradictions between Mao's thought and the break up of the former Soviet Union, PRC's policy was clearly guided by its pragmatic national interests and how Beijing always kept its ties with Pretoria unaffected from its general anti-colonial tirade in Africa. This anti-colonial tirade, otherwise, thrived on popular slogans like Zhou En-lai describing Africa as"the Center of the struggle between the East and West" which he said was "ripe for revolution" but actions always carried a message different from their deeds.

There was, however, nothing strange about this as nation-states have always pursued foreign relations at two levels, one of projecting high moral stands and the other of acting according to their real- politik equations. For Beijing, therefore, more than heralding a new era for the Sino-South African relations, South African decision to switch over diplomatic recognition from Taipei to Beijing seems the natural result of PRC's continued and arduous efforts towards fulfilling its own sovereign existence. After Israel and South Korea, Pretoria was perhaps the only strong pillar that had continued to defy PRC's lures and, therefore, the South African decision to switch over its diplomatic recognition from Taipei to Beijing has perhaps finally sealed the fate of cross-strait relations in favour of communist China, though the finer details of this final outcome may not be clear for a long time to come.



1. "Further on PRC, South Africa Establishing Relations", Foreign Broadcast Information Service-China 97-364, December 30, 1997 (henceforth FBIS-CHI).

2. Sun Shangwu, "China Seals ties with S Africa," China Daily (Hong Kong), December 31, 1997.

3. "Chinese-South African Trade Still Growing", China Daily (Beijing), May 2, 1996, p. 5; also The Star (Johannesburg), April 30, 1996.

4 . Tu Ming-ming, "Why Did South Africa Choose Beijing", ["Special Interview" with Delina de Villiers-Steenkamp, South African Consulate -General in Hong Kong], Hong Kong Wen Wei Po (in Chinese) traslated and cited in FBIS-CHI-96-250, dated December 5, 1996.

5. Greg Mills, "The Case for Exclusive Recognition," in South Africa and the Two Chinas? Dilema, op. cit., p. 82.

6. "South Africa Snaps Ties with Taiwan, Recognises China ", Khaleej Times (United Arab Emirates), November 28, 1996; also Harvey Stockwin, "Jiang Triumphant as SA to Stop Recognising Taiwan", The Times of India (New Delhi ), November 29, 1996.

7. Though a certain opinion had been building up in favour of Beijing for quite some time but it was only Dr Mandela himself who had put an end to such speculations by announcing barely three months before (August 1996) saying that at least he would not be guilty of suspending relations with Taiwan and that such an action would come only from "a man with no morals." See "South Africa Snaps Ties with Taiwan", The Tribune (Chandigarh, India), November 29, 1996.

8. "South Africa Snaps Ties with Taiwan, Recognises China", Khaleej Times (United Arab Emrates), November 28, 1996.

9. "Taipei To Review South Africa Aid, Investment Programs", Hong Kong AFP 28 November 1996 cited in FBIS-CHI-96-231 dated November 28, 1996; "Li Teng-hui Vows to Resist Beijing's 'Irrational Pressures", Hong Kong AFP 29 November 1996 cited in FBIS-CHI-96-231 dated November 29, 1996.

10. "Taiwan recalls it envoy from Africa", The Asian Age (New Delhi, London), December 6, 1996, p 7; and "Taipei Recalls Envoy to South Africa", Johannesburg Channel Africa Radio (in English) cited in FBIS-CHI-96-242 dated December 14, 1996.

11. J.S. Chang and Sofia Wu, "Taipei To Suspend Cooperative Projects Worth $840 Million", Taiwan Central News Agency (in English), December 9, 1996, cited in FBI-CHI-96-237 dated December 9, 1996; also Ann ie Huang, "Taiwan Rethinks on Investment in South Africa", The Asian Age (New Delhi, London November 29, 1996, p. 7.

12. Norman, "Taiwanese Factories to Close Temporarily in Protest", The Star (Johannesburg), January 16, 1997.

13. Flor Wang, "Taipei Urges Business To Edge Into Africa", Taiwan Central News Agency (in English), 14 January, 1997 cited in FBI-CH-97-010 dated January 14, 1997.

14. Lorien Holland, "Spokesman Criticises Pro-Taiwan States, Overseas Visits", Hong Kong AFP (in Eglish) 16 January 1997 cited in FBIS-CHI-97-011 dated January 16, 1997.

15. "Ministry To Promote High-Level Economic Exchanges" , Chung-Kuo Shih-Pao (Taipai, in Chinese), January 10, 1997, p. 4, translated and printed in FBI-CHI-97-010 dated January 10, 1997.

16. J.S. Chang and Sofia Wu, n. 15.

17. Sun Shangwu, "China-S Africa ties to bolster business", China Daily (Hong Kong), January 3, 1998, pp. 1, 3.

18. Xi Yafei, "Trade to boom with S Africa", China Daily (Beijing), November 7, 1997.

19. Theobaldo Filesi, China and Africa in the Middle Ages [traslated by David L Morison], (London: Frank, 1972), p. 4. From the second century onwards Chinese voyages used to travel from the Arabian sea to the Horn of Africa. Commerce and prestige was their purpose. The Chinese were not conquerors in principle for the rulers of this Celestial Empire considered themselves invested with a universal authority which needed to be revealed, not imposed.

20. Bruce D Larkin , China and Africa, 1949-1970: The Foreign Policy of the People's Republic of China,( Berkeley: University of California, 1971), p. 16,

21. Alaba Ogunsanwa, China's Policy in Africa, 1958-1971, (York: Cambridge University Press, 1974), p. 209.