Tread carefully in dealings with Beijing, SA

At the recent World Health Organisation (WHO) international gathering, China was at pains to emphasise its allegedly open and transparent attitude on the coronavirus. This happened even as a number of countries called for a full probe into where the virus originated, how it spread and whether China's disclosures could have been made earlier and thereby saved thousands of lives. Our government surprised a few people – given its friendship with Beijing – with its criticism of alleged racist treatment of black Africans living in China amid virus-inspired xenophobia there. While Beijing is working tirelessly on its international image –...
At the recent World Health Organisation (WHO) international gathering, China was at pains to emphasise its allegedly open and transparent attitude on the coronavirus.

This happened even as a number of countries called for a full probe into where the virus originated, how it spread and whether China's disclosures could have been made earlier and thereby saved thousands of lives.

Our government surprised a few people – given its friendship with Beijing – with its criticism of alleged racist treatment of black Africans living in China amid virus-inspired xenophobia there.

While Beijing is working tirelessly on its international image – and in Africa is buying into media operations to help polish that image – it remains an autocratic regime.

Nowhere is that more apparent than it is relationship with the island state of Taiwan, which it not only refuses to acknowledge but actively seeks to bully and threaten with a military takeover.

The Taiwanese have been refused full status at the WHO and, early this year, Taiwanese scientists were ignored by the WHO when they warned the coronavirus was transmitted from human to human – when Beijing was denying that.

China has its eyes on Africa – so we need to approach with caution any dealings with Beijing.

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