[in] focus

South China Sea dispute:China continues to reject multilateral dialogue

China’s attitude towards a territorial sovereignty dispute in the South China Sea has proved to be problematic in South East Asia. For decades now, the territorial dispute in the Spratly/Nasha islands, known to be rich in natural resources, continue to undermine peace and security in region.

The underlining cause of the tension is that, China claim historical territorial sovereignty on the disputed islands and waters, which clashes with a number of states such as the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Singapore, Brunei, Indonesia and Taiwan. These states too claim legal sovereign rights over the disputed islands.

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Decentralised South-South cooperation: A complementary vehicle for state-building in post-conflict societies in Africa?

In recent times, there have been renewed efforts by major developing countries to stimulate South-South cooperation, an effort which has resulted in improved political, economic, and socio-cultural relations among the countries of the so-called Global South. The new wave of South-South cooperation, which, to a large extent, has been spurred by the improved economic prospects of middle-income developing countries and is best captured in, but not limited to, cooperation frameworks like BRICS, IBSA, BASIC or CIVETS, is touted to play an influential role in determining future international processes. More importantly, it comes with a wealth of immediate opportunities for the countries of the South in their efforts to surmount intractable development challenges. In the case of Africa, deepening South-South cooperation, if sufficiently leveraged, could become a catalyst for successful post-conflict reconstruction and peacebuilding efforts, particularly with regard to the often intricate task of rebuilding state capacity.

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The Malian crisis and its embarrassment for a ‘sovereign’ Africa

If the 2011 NATO expedition in Libya was thought to be insulting to Africa, then the ongoing French-led military intervention in the north of Mali can best be characterised as an embarrassment to African leaders and their people who are often critical and suspicious of Western intervention. When NATO carried out its military campaign in Libya almost two years ago, ostensibly to contain the late Muammar Gaddafi’s assault on protesting civilians, the general refrain from a significant part of the African political and intellectual leadership was that the offensive amounted to a violation of the continent’s sovereignty. This was the case, even though all three African representatives in the UN Security Council (Gabon, Nigeria and South Africa) voted in favour of the resolution authorising the use of ‘all necessary measures’ to protect civilians in Libya, and which formed the basis for NATO’s intervention.

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All about the Money? South Africa and International Development Cooperation

South Africans are feeling the pinch as the knock-on effects of the international financial crisis filter down and the costs of everything goes up; everything from petrol, to electricity and food, with the added cost of e-tolls looming large. As we head towards the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) Summit in March, discussions will resume on the establishment of a BRICS development bank, a representation of the growing economic power of these emerging countries and the success of South-South cooperation. Given our own domestic context, this discussion will be increasingly hard for South Africans to swallow, especially when it comes to questions of where the money will come from and who will benefit.

In just under a decade South Africa has become increasingly active in providing international development cooperation. Research reports indicate that R278 million was spent in support of presidential election in the DRC (2006), R4million was spent to fund South Africa’s participation in the AU observer mission in Sudan (2010), R24millon was spent in funding Cuban Doctors in Sierra Leone, and R300million was spent in supporting economic recovery in Zimbabwe. Even in the recent attacks in the city of Timbuktu, Mali (January 2013), evidence of the reach of South Africa’s funding was highlighted in the unfortunate torching of a library, which was built to house ancient manuscripts.

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Taiwan anticipate to ease off tension in the East China Sea row, how will China and Japan respond?

Tension is mounting in the East China Sea over the Diaoyutai islands (named in China) or Senkaku Islands (named in Japan). The Republic of China (Taiwan), however, proposes to resolve the territorial dispute through meaningful dialogue but that’s if China and Japan come on board to support the initiative. Already having support from a number of states in the international community, Taiwan seeks to play a major role in diffusing the tension based on its peace initiative and trilateral dialogue to avoid conflict on the issue between China and Japan.

Since tension escalated in September 2012, after Japan purchased the disputed Islands from a private owner which led to a major protest against Japanese businesses in China, discussions around the tension painted the picture that both nations are determined to secure their interest in the islands at any cost, creating a room of military confrontation.

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