The Turn of the Tide against South Africa

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Chapter II: The Period of Reluctant Relations, 1948-1971


The year 1948 marked a watershed in the history of the ROC and the RSA in terms of their internal historical development and external relations. It heralded not only the end of the high-profile era for the national leaders of both the ROC and the RSA, but also the beginning of a period of dramatic change in the domestic situation as well as the decline of the international stature of both countries.
Before 1948, the then Union of South Africa was one of the most prestigious members of the international community. Despite sporadic criticism levelled at the it over its administration of South West Africa and the treatment of its Indian population, South Africa enjoyed a highly respected international position and pursued normal interactions with other countries. The Union of South Africa was one of three independent states in Africa and the most economically developed country on the continent. As a member of the Commonwealth, South Africa was fully integrated with the mainstream of international s·ociety. She was also regarded as an important link of the Commonwealth defence network in Africa. 1 At the time, her internal racial policies rarely met any significant challenge. Large parts of Africa and Asia were still under white colonial rule as it was the last phase of European colonialism, and white domination over the non-white peoples was generally the order of the day. The long practised policy of racial segregation and white minority rule in South Africa seldom became a conspicuous focus of world condemnation. South Africa’s internal racial policy did not expand into an internationalised issue, as would be the case in the second half of the twentieth century. As it was still in the era of the Pax Britannica, the British connection – notwithstanding Britain’s criticism of South Africa’s domestic policies – was one of the beneficial factors for South Africa to facilitate its close association with the Western powers, which in turn enhanced South Africa’s international standing.
Apart from its links with Britain, the pre-eminent role played by the Prime Minister of th~ Union of South Africa, Field Marshal Jan Smuts, and the Union’s significant role in the war effort of the Allies, also contributed to South Africa’s esteemed position in the international community. Smuts’ personal charisma, his international prestige and active role in the Allies’ defeat of the Axis powers certainly boosted South Africa’s image and international standing. As a result, South Africa not only enjoyed unproportionate international influence, but also played a leading role in important international activities such as the formation of the League of Nations and the United Nations (UN). Smuts’ prestige and international stature reached a pinnacle during his second term (1939-1945) as Prime Minister when he attended meetings of the War Cabinet in London.2
On the Chinese mainland, the development of events during the same period manifested a similar trend. In the inter-war years, the Kuomintang (Nationalist) government was considered one of the major Allied Powers as it played an important role in resisting Japanese aggression in Asia. The leader of the Kuomintang government, Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek, was the Supreme Commander of the Allied Forces of the China Theatre in the war years. At the time, Chiang was comparable to Smuts in terms of international stature. From the year 1937 – when the Sino-Japanese war broke out – until 1948, Chiang stood at the zenith of his international prestige and political power as he dominated a large and populous country. At the height of his career, he attended the summit meeting of the leaders of the Allied powers in Cairo in 1943 as one of the Big Four, together with Josef Stalin, Winston Churchill and Franklin D. Roosevelt. He was heralded as « the greatest soldier-statesman of our time on the Continent of Asia.,,
However, in the wake of the Second World War, a gradual process of international isolation set in for both the Kuomintang and the South African governments, and the year 1948 became an important turning point for the deterioration of these two countries’ international status. After 1948, both countries were to face unprecedented adversity with sweeping changes of the internal and external milieu. Both were heading towards isolation and a decline of international status; both were confronted with a looming threat to national security; both were accused of illegitimate governance and both suffered the diminishing stature of the respective political leaders in the international community. The turn of the tide against these two countries was largely due to fundamental changes in their external environment as well as their domestic situations.
In the international environment, the end of the Second World War did not bring any further grandeur and acclaim to Smuts or Chiang Kai-shek. On the contrary, the end of the war was actually « the concluding phase of one of the most historic and dramatic developments of our time.,,4 The process of decolonisation was set to change the old international political map. The post war era saw the swift dismantling, in the time-span of one generation, of the Western colonial system which had developed over five centuries.s The decline of the Western European colonial powers was partly the consequence of the unleashing of powerful nationalism, a sense of national awakening and anti-colonialism unseen before among the colonised Asian and African peoples. Pan-Africanism, which gave a sense of solidarity and sentiment of a common group heritage to the black people of African origin, was one of the said new forces to unite African people for liberation and decolonisation. The large scale prolonged war had also exhausted and weakened the European colonial powers, especially Britain, which survived the war, but was in a much vyeaker position compared to the pre-war era.6 As a result of the decline of the old European system, a brand new post-war world order emerged to replace that which existed before the war. Decolonisation and self-determination became an internationally accepted norm. Consequently, the process of decolonisation produced many newly-independent countries which were to emerge in Africa, Asia and other Third World areas. The composition of the Third World community and that of international organisations also changed. The old European-centred world order was replaced by a new bi-polar international system of Cold War. The pivot of world power was thus shifted from Western Europe to the United States of America (USA) and the Soviet Union (USSR).
Furthermore, in the post-war era an increasing number of people in the West, except Spain and Portugal, gradually took a more progressive view on their colonies. It was felt that colonialism was morally indefensible and financially too costly. Most people in Western Europe were concerned about the reconstruction. social welfare and economic lot at home, rather than the vanity of maintaining remote colonies with taxpayers’ money. Many conservative governments, including that of Churchill, were brought down. There was a general swing to the left in Western European politics. This can be seen from the election victory won by the British Labour Party in 1945, as well as the rise of Christian Socialist Parties in West Germany, Italy, and France and strong Communist parties in France and Italy.?


The various changes impacted directly on South Africa’s international position and foreign relations. For example, Churchill’s defeat by the Labour Party at the election on July 25th, 1945 was an unexpected blow to South Africa’s post-war foreign relations. The new Labour government, obsessed with home problems and Britain’s financial plight was more inclined to relinquish the British colonies towards self-government rather than defend the white settlers or retain the British Empire at great cost. The leader of the Labour Party, Clement Attlee, did not maintain such a cordial friendship with the leader of South Africa as that which had existed between Churchill and Smuts. The former Director-General of t~e Department of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of South Africa (RSA), Brand Fourie, recalled:
Na die beeindiging van die oorlog het dinge in Londen vinnig verander. Die geallieerde regerings wat daar gevestig is, is terug na hulle eie lande en tot die buitewereld se verbasing verloor Mnr. Churchill die algemene verkiesing in Brittanje in Junie 1945. Geleidelik verdwyn die leidende politieke figure met wie Suid-Afrika, deur generaal Smuts, sulke goeie verhoudings gehandhaaf het. Daar heers ‘n nuwe atmosfeer en prioriteite verander geweldig. Vinniger sy vlerke toets en sy eie Volkebond homself ontbind.8 as verwag begin die nuwe wereldorganisasie invloedsfeer uitbrei. Intussen het die ou In addition to the decline of the Western colonial powers, the upsurge of African and Asian nationalism, the shift of world power, decolonisation and the changes of Western political leaders with which South Africa maintained close relations, there were other factors that emerged in the aftermath of the Second World War which had an unfavourable bearing on South Africa’s foreign relations. The first and foremost factor was the rise of the new post-war international notion of universal human rights and racial equality. This new norm which favoured black majority rule was in direct conflict with South Africa’s domestic order erected on white domination and racial inequality. From the standpoint of Deon Geldenhuys, an authoritative scholar on South Africa’s diplomacy of isolation at the Rand Afrikaans University in Johannesburg, this was the main cause of South Africa’s isolation: « a new post-war international morality that created an inhospitable external environment for a domestic order built on racial discrimination and domination. JIg
The founding of the UN in 1945 added further momentum to the international concern with human rights. From its very inception, the UN has been « acutely conscious of its obligation to promote the elimination of all forms of racial discrimination.Jl10 The General Assembly of the UN at its very first session unanimously adopted Resolution 103(1) on November 19th, 1946 to call on all of the governments and responsible authorities to conform both to the letter and the spirit of the Charter of the UN.11 It was during this first session of the UN General Assembly that South Africa stood condemned for its domestic racial policies, and in particular about its mistreatment of its Indian population and its administration of South West Africa. This was the beginning of South Africa’s friction with the UN, and these two issues later developed into the prelude of the international outcry against South Africa. With the establishment of the UN Commission on Human Rights in 1947, chaired by Mrs Eleanor Roosevelt, wife of President Roosevelt, a bill of rights was drafted. With the subsequent adoption of the Universal
Declaration of Human Rights on December 10th, 1948, the UN had become the embodiment of the lofty ideals of human rights. Human rights were sanctified as one of the important post-war codes of ethics and moral yardsticks used to measure the conduct of a sovereign member state. Most members of the UN, in which the Afro-Asian-Arab and Communist bloc formed a majority, tended to use the UN platform as an international forum to chastise and condemn South Africa’s racial policies and white minority rule. In this regard, as the former Secretary-General of the UN, Boutros Boutros Ghali, had indicated that it not only played a central role in assisting South Africa to transform into a non-racial democracy, but also « provided a forum for the liberation movements and undertook an international campaign against apartheid.,,12
The Cold War gave the Afro-Asian states a unique opportunity of « playing the Communist bloc off against the West.,,13 In order to win the support of the Afro-Asian nations in the rivalry for world leadership, both the USA and the USSR openly supported the African liberation movements. Both superpowers strongly denounced colonialism and white racism. The ideology of the anti-colonial revolutionaries was publicly endorsed, and the emerging Afro-Asian countries, due to common interests, soon grouped into blocs with collective organisations co-ordinating their external policies. These countries, particularly the African states, formed the backbone of the Third World. Uncommitted as they were, Afro-Asian countries were to make full use of the situation of rivalry between the two competing superpowers and to wield great bargaining influence quite out of proportion to their real strength.
The above adverse factors converged to contribute to the deterioration of South Africa’s external environment and the change of the world situation. These unfavourable external changes were further compounded by the rise of an ever-growing number of hostile Afro-Asian countries, which were either granted independence from 1947 onwards or on the threshold of self-government. Among these newly-independent countries, the independence of India and Pakistan in 1947 had a direct impact on South Africa due to South Africa’s large population of Indian descendants. Many other Afro-Asian nations were also to attain their independence. South Africa’s racial policies, particularly the ill treatment of South African Indians, were frequently raised by India and other newly-independent countries in the various international forums. The problem of South Africa’s racial policies thus became the focal point of the international community, highlighting the injustice meted out to South Africa’s Indian population and black majority. This political problem would not go away automatically until the political logjam was done away with completely. The rising tide of liberation, colonial revolution and internal non-white opposition was turning against the established order on the continent of Africa and Asia. These changes posed great challenges to white South Africa’s dominance.
On the home front, South Africa’s white government was also confronted with unprecedented serious challenges and rising African nationalism.The  government’s embarkation upon the enacting  of political/social engineering of apartheid policies was met with the escalation of black resistance. South Africa’s ‘non-whites’ were increasingly dissatisfied with the racial discrimination, and black resistance to white supremacy became more militant. Black trade unions re-emerged and the major political organisation, the African National Congress (ANC), was revitalised. As from 1948 onwards, the ANC began moving away from its relatively peaceful nature of resistance to militant mass action. From 1949 to 1952, the ANC Youth League under the leadership of Nelson Mandela, Oliver Tambo and Walter Sisulu, guided the ANC to « a more radical and revolutionary path » .

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In the meantime, the tidal waves of civil war between the Kuomintang government army and the Chinese Communist forces raging in mainland China after the end of the Second World War was turning against the Kuomintang government by 1948. With newly acquired Japanese arms, handed to the Chinese Communists by Soviet troops which had declared war against Japan near the end of Second World War,27 the Chinese Communist forces, in January 1948, seized the vast industrial heartland of Manchuria and launched an all-out general offensive in other parts of China.
The Kuomintang government troops, under the leadership of Generalissimo Chiang Kai-Shek, suffered a series of defeats on the battlefields of Manchuria and North China. The Kuomintang’s military debacles were so alarming that Chiang Kai-shek conceded in his diary:
On all fronts, our troops have met with reverses. Yulin in Shensi and Yungcheng in Shansi have been under siege for some time, yet we have no reserves to reinforce these beleaguered towns. The loss of Shihchiachuang on the 12th [of November, 1947] has dealt a serious blow to the morale of both the troops and the civilian population in North China…. This is indeed the most critical moment for the country.28
~he setback of the Kuomintang government troops on the battlefield of the post-World War II civil war in China was exacerbated by the mismanagement of the economy and alienation of public support. 29 The currency reform initiated by the Kuomintang government in 1948 was a disastrous failure and inflation got out of control. In Shanghai, the major commercial centre of mainland China, the price of rice (the staple food for the Chinese) increased from 300 Chinese dollars per picul (133 pounds) in the morning of November 8th, 1948 to 1000 at noon and 1800 by the dusk of that day. 30 Between August 19th and November 8th, 1948, commodity prices escalated twenty times.31 In six months, prices rocketed 85000 times.32 Starvation, corruption. hoarding and profiteering were widespread in many areas. Despite the efforts made by the Kuomintang government to enforce requisitioning of grain at bayonet-point, as reported by the American Consul-General in Mukden, the economic situation was chaotic.33 The Hyper-inflation  became uncontrollable and industrial production virtually stopped.
By December 1948, all Manchuria and most of North China had been seized by the Chinese Communists. Tientsin fell in January 1949 and Peking (presently called Beijing) surrendered to the Chinese Communists. In the same month, the Chinese civil war had culminated in the great battle of Hsuchow with 300 000 casualties of Chiang’s elite troops.34 In April 1949, the Chinese Communist forces crossed the Yangtze River and took the then capital of the Kuomintang government, Nanking. On May 6th, 1949, Chiang Kai-Shek left Shanghai for Taiwan with a view to using Taiwan as a base to continue his anti-Communist campaign in alliance with the neighbouring Southeast Asian countries, such as the Philippines and South Korea, to « combine their resources to fight the Communist menace.,,35 On May 25th, 1949, Shanghai, the most important commercial metropolis, was taken by the Chinese Communist forces virtually without a fight. Prior to his arrival in Taiwan, Chiang had deployed a force of 300 000 troops in Taiwan with the support of a few gunboats and some planes. During the period from July to October 1949, although Chiang did pay a few short visits to the remaining Kuomintang-controlled cities such as Canton and Chungking in Southeast China to explore possibilities of a last stand against the advancement of the Communists,36 the process of Chinese Civil War was drawing to its conclusion. On September 21St, 1949, the victorious Chinese Communist leader, Mao Tse-tung (Mao Zedong), declared in Peking (Beijing) that « at present, several million troops of the field armies of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) are already striking at areas close to Taiwan, Guangdong, Guangxi, Guizhou, Sichuan and Xinjiang.’m On October 1st, 1949, Canton had been lost and the Chinese Communists had almost completed the conquest of the Chinese mainland.

Title page
Chapter I: Introduction
1.1 An Overview of the Historiography
1.2 Aim and Scope of the Study
1.3 Approach and Method
1.4 Research Problems
1.5 Historical Background-The Separation of the Chinese Mainland and Taiwan
1.6 A Note on Romanization
Chapter II: The Period of Reluctant Relations, 1948-1971
2.1 Introduction
2.2 The Turn of the Tide against South Africa
2.3 The Turn of the Tide against the Kuomintang government
2.4 Stability under the Kuomintang Rule
2.5 The ROC’s Domestic and Foreign Policies
2.6 Initial Relations between the ROC and the RSA
2.7 Threats to the National Security of the Two Countries
2.8 Summary
Chapter III: The Evolution of Cordial Political-Diplomatic Links between the ROC and the RSA, 1971-1994
3.1 Introduction
3.2 Considerations for Forging Closer Ties with the RSA
3.3 Events which led to the RSA’s Change of Policy towards the ROC
3.4 The Evolution of the ROC-RSA Political-Diplomatic Relations
3.5 The ROC-RSA Diplomatic Alignment
3.6 An Appraisal of ROC-RSA Diplomatic Alignment (1976-1989)
3.7 The Uncertainty of ROC-RSA Relations
3.7 Summary
Chapter IV: Economic and Financial Ties between the ROC and the RSA, 1948-1998
4.1 Introduction
4.2 The Evolution of ROC-RSA Trade Relations
4.3 The Composition of ROC-RSA Bilateral Trade
4.4 Bilateral Institutional Structures to Strengthen ROC-RSA Economic and Trade Interactions
4.5 ROC Investment in the RSA
4.6 Air and Sea Links
4.7 Banking and the ROC’s Financial Assistance to the RSA
4.8 Co-operation on Fisheries
4.9 Summary
Chapter V: The Development of ROC-RSA Nuclear Co-operation, 1976-1990 
5.1 Introduction
5.2 The ROC’s Quest for Nuclear Energy
5.3 The ROC’s Energy Strategy and the Attractiveness of the RSA to the ROC
5.4 The Development of the ROC Nuclear Industry
5.5 The Establishment of Uranium and Nuclear Industries in the RSA
5.6 The Implementation of ROC-RSA Nuclear Co-operation
5.7 The Termination of ROC-RSA Nuclear Co-operation
5.8 Summary
Chapter VI: Military and Other Aspects of ROC-RSA Relations, 1976-1997 
6.1 Introduction
6.2 Military Co-operation between the ROC and the RSA
6.3 Academic, Cultural and Social Links between the ROC and the RSA
6.4 Summary 23
Chapter VII: The End of ROC-RSA Diplomatic Ties and the Establishment of Substantive Relations between the RSA and the ROC, 1994-1998 
7.1 The RSA’s New Foreign Policy and International Relations
7.2 The Changing Situation of ROC-RSA Relations
7.3 The Position of the GNU on the Severance of ROC-RSA Diplomatic Relations
7.4 The ROC Government’s Efforts to Save ROC-RSA Diplomatic Relations
7.5 Pressure put on Mandela to Reverse the Status Quo
7.6 The RSA’s Normalisation of Relations with the PRC
7.7 The Establishment of ROC-RSA Substantive Relations
Chapter VIII: Conclusion 
8.1 Conclusion
8.2 Epilogue
Appendix: List of Tables 

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