ISSN 2330-717X

Ten Years Of China-South Sudan Diplomatic Ties – OpEd


South Sudan is one of the youngest countries in Africa if not the world. On 9th July China and South Sudan marks the 10th anniversary for the establishment of diplomatic relations. In his remarks on the celebration of decades of diplomatic ties, the Chinese president Xi Jinping called on “China and South Sudan to deepen communication and cooperation in all fields under the framework of the Belt and Road Initiative”.

This was during the exchange of congratulatory message with his South Sudanese President Salva Kiir.

The government of the people Republic of China on the 9th of June announces its recognition of South Sudan and set up diplomatic ties with it at the ambassadorial level.  The president maintained in his message that bilateral relationship has resulted in sound and stable development over the past decade, with notably achievement made in cooperation in all areas.  In addition, the Chinese president added “China and South Sudan have firmly supported each other on issues that involve each other’s core interest and major concerns”. 

China-South Sudan Political exchanges:

Its was in 1970s when China sent a medical teams and agricultural experts to provide the needed assistance to the people of Southern Sudan, this marks the beginning of friendly exchanges. Also in January 2005, China was one of the witnesses to the Comprehensive Peace Agreements signed between the peoples of north and south. This Comprehensive agreement Peace marks end of the 38-years civil war and subsequently pave the way for the creation of autonomous government of South Sudan. From that time China began formal exchanges with the South Sudan. The bilateral cooperation centered on various and has grown progressively to date.  

Chinese president Hu Jintao, made his historic first to Sudan on February 2007, where he met with the First Vice president of Sudan Salva Kiir Mayardit who was then the president of the southern autonomous government in Khartoum. Salva Kiir Mayardit subsequently visited China twice in 2007 and 2007.

It was not until 2008, when China officially opened it Consulate General in Juba of South Sudan. The Chinese government was the first country to recognize the results of the referendum in the South Sudan in February 2011. On the formally establishment of South Sudan on 9 July 2011, China’s Housing and Urban Development Minster Jiang Weixin was the special envoy of president Hu Jintao. Jiang representing the president of the People’s Republic of China signed a Joint Communiqué with the Suoth Sudan’s Foreign Minister Deng Alor KoI on the Establishment of Diplomatic Relations between China and South Sudan.

In clear terms China chose to sign a communiqué with South Sudan on the founding day of South Sudan thereby becoming the first country to fully establish such relation with a newly formed country. Chinese government never signs a joint communiqué with its core national interest commitment request. This was vividly displayed when in the Joint communiqué the government of South Sudan admits to the one China policy. That’s the “People’s Republic of China is the sole legitimate government representing China and that Taiwan is an inalienable part of China.”  South Sudan President Kiir also visited China at the invitation President Hu Jintao. During his visit president Kiir held talks with the president of China and other members of the Chinese governing council, the standing Committee of the Political bureau of CPC Central.

China-South Sudan Economic & Trade Cooperation.

China’s assistance to South Sudan can be traced back to 1970s, when some Chinese agricultural experts provided technical knowledge on rice growing to the people of South Sudan. This aim of this technological agriculture transfer was to ensure food security which was then a huge challenge to the people of South Sudan. Likewise in 1971, China also sent a medical aid teams to Juba, Wau and Malaka to offer medical assistance to the people of South Sudan. On the outbreak of the Sudanese civil war in 1985, China halts all medical assistance for the safety of it personals due to the situation on the ground, and the medical aid only resume in January 2012 after China and Sudan signed a memorandum of understanding.

To date the Chinese governments has been actively in South Sudan’s economic and social reconstruction by the provision of critical facilities such as hospitals, schools, digging wells, provision of medical equipments and anti-malaria drugs and the provision of other humanitarian assistance not forgetting human resource training.  Economic and trade relations between China and South Sudan have progress sturdily since the establishment of South Sudan as an independent country. The two sides consolidate their economic ties with the signing of a bilateral trade, economic and technical agreements and the subsequent establishment of economic and trade committees on November 2011. By October 2012 more than 60 Chinese-funded enterprises have been registered in South Sudan mostly in the petroleum, construction (road and bridges) and communication among others.  

Education and Culture Exchanges

The smooth diplomatic relations between China and South Sudan has been extended to the field of education and cultural arena. In November 2009, China trained five acrobats for South Sudan. The government of China also provides different scholarship for South Sudanese students to study in China in various fields of study. This scholarship continues to increase from October 2012 to date. To date it is estimated that over 60 South Sudanese students are in studying in various Chinese universities. In the area of human resources training the government of China also offers human resources training to over 500 officials and provided technical training for them in China.  

The hope both China and South Sudan is to see their diplomatic connections grow and become stronger. The question people mostly ask is at what cost is this relation to the people of South Sudan.

*Francis Kwesi Kyirewiah is a Ph.D. student at the Jilin University’s School of International Relations and Public Affairs in China. His research areas include African security, China-Africa relations and diplomacy. He can be reach through this email: [email protected] 

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