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Reflections on Lin Songtian’s Reported Departure from South Africa

18-hours before the story broke on The Daily Maverick website, we heard rumors that China’s outspoken, high-profile ambassador to South Africa, Lin Songtian, had been recalled. “Holy ^%#*$! That’s huge!” I said to myself when I first heard about the news.

South Africa is the most important country in Africa for China. The bulk of China’s investments on the continent are there, it’s a major trading partner and home to the largest ethnic Chinese population on the continent. So, it’s no surprise that Beijing’s envoy in Pretoria is also China’s most important diplomat on the continent.

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What is The China-Global South Project?


The China-Global South Project is passionately independent, non-partisan and does not advocate for any country, company or culture.


A carefully curated selection of the day’s most important China-Global South stories. Updated 24 hours a day by human editors. No bots, no algorithms.


Diverse, often unconventional insights from scholars, analysts, journalists and a variety of stakeholders in the China-Global South discourse.


A unique professional network of China-Africa scholars, analysts, journalists and other practioners from around the world.