Follow CGSP on Social Media

Listen to the CGSP Podcast

Why the U.S. Should Be Worried About South Africa’s Increasingly Close Ties With China

Chinese Foreign Minister and South African President Cyril Ramaphosa during a recent meeting in Durban, South Africa. Photo via Chinese embassy in Pretoria.

On its own, South African Deputy President David Mabuza’s week-long trip to Beijing, which starts today, will probably not generate a lot of headlines. But his arrival in the Chinese capital caps a month of small but important milestones that all point to deepening of Sino-South African ties that will likely come at the expense of Pretoria’s ties with the United States.

China is already South Africa’s largest trading partner and one of its most important sources of foreign investment but the relationship is moving far beyond economics as President Cyril Ramaphosa further embraces the “Look East Policy” that his predecessor, Jacob Zuma, began. Today, Ramaphosa is one of China’s most forceful advocates in Africa, pushing back against the United States on a variety of issues ranging from Huawei to Chinese lending practices.

Lead the Conversation on China

Subscribe Today to Get Full Access to The China-Global South Project

Check Out Everything You'll Get With Your Subscription

The China-Global South Daily Brief delivered to your inbox at 6AM Washington time

Full access to exclusive news and analysis from editors based in the Global South

Transcripts of CGSP’s twice-weekly podcasts

Students and teachers with a valid .edu email address are eligible for a 50% discount off monthly or yearly subscriptions. Email us to receive a discount code.

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.