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China’s Party Training Programs in South Africa: A Quest for Political Alignment

Abstract

South Africa’s contemporary political relations with China shows a resemblance in political thinking and beliefs that forms the basis for solidarity and draws the two countries closer on ideological grounds. The literature points out that when states shares similar characteristics, certain hypotheses exists that can provide an analytical explanation of alignment formation. The ideological push by China aims to promote the political like-mindedness of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and African National Congress (ANC) and manifests in the launching of party training programs. Socialism with Chinese characteristics forms the core of the training programs, which is used to strengthen party structures, advance solidarity and maintain official party-to-party contact. Communication with an ANC party official provide a first-hand account of the beliefs of the current South African president and also what the stance of the South African Communist party (SACP) is. A major difference is that the ANC leader regards the Chinese way of governance as important, while the SACP focus on solidifying party structures. In light of this, the impact party training programs can have in testing the alignment hypotheses is examined in the paper. The findings reflect on the similar traits both parties share and the significance of the alignment to strengthen the political ideological relationship.

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Notes

  1. In a nutshell, the Chinese dream put forth by Chinese President Xi Jinping, is to build a moderately prosperous society and rejuvenate Chinese prosperity, collective effort, socialism, and national glory (Ming 2018).

  2. This definition is adopted from Martin Seliger’s classic definition, which define ideology as ‘set of ideas by which men posit, explain and justify ends and means of organized social action, and specifically political action, irrespective of whether such action aims to preserve, amend, uproot or rebuild a given social order (Seliger 1976, 14).’

  3. The ‘Three Represents’ refers to what the Communist Party of China currently stands for. That is: It represents the development trends of advanced productive forces. It represents the orientations of an advanced culture. It represents the fundamental interests of the overwhelming majority of the people of China. It was put forward by Jiang Zemin, former Chinese president, in 2000 (http://www.china.org.cn/english/zhuanti/3represents/68735.htm).

  4. Email correspondence with ANC member 25 May 2020.

  5. Email correspondence with ANC member 20 May 2020.

  6. The Manifesto of the South African Communist Party outlines the role socialism can play in the South African society (https://www.sahistory.org.za). The ANC is a member of the Socialist International, which is a worldwide association of political parties which seek to establish democratic socialism and consisting mostly of democratic socialist, social-democratic and labour political parties (http://www.socialistinternational.org/).

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Correspondence to Fanie Herman.

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Herman, F. China’s Party Training Programs in South Africa: A Quest for Political Alignment. Fudan J. Hum. Soc. Sci. 13, 437–451 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s40647-020-00283-6

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s40647-020-00283-6

Keywords

  • Sino-South African relationship
  • The Chinese Communist Party
  • The African National Congress
  • Ideological alignment
  • Party training programs