The South African Department of International Relations and Co-operation (DIRCO) says the recent trip to Taipei by Solly Msimanga, the Executive Mayor of the City of Tshwane, a metropolitan municipality which includes the national administrative capital, Pretoria, is in breach of South Africa's foreign policy and is highly regretted.

The Department said it was made aware of the visit and advised Msimanga not to undertake the visit as it would constitute a breach of the One-China Policy. In a move that is highly regrettable, Mayor Msimanga disregarded DIRCO's advice and proceeded with the visit," the department said in a statement here Monday.

Taiwan is not recognized as a sovereign state by South Africa and the United Nations. South Africa maintains a Liaison office in Taipei as does the Taiwanese in Pretoria. The Liaison Office does not enjoy the status of an Embassy.

"The liaison offices arrangement was agreed upon to facilitate people-to-people contact. It has no political mandate and therefore interaction between political office bearers is not allowed.

The department said Section 84 (2) (h) (i) of the South frican Constitution enjoins the President of the Republic with the powers and responsibilities to conduct South Africa's foreign relations.

The department said representatives of any sphere of government must ensure that their engagements with international entities are aligned to existing mechanism and programmed and that such relations are coordinated in a manner that advances South Africa's foreign policy and national interests.

Our bilateral relations with China are facilitated and guided broadly through the Beijing Declaration Establishing the Comprehensive Strategic Partnership; the Bi-National Commission; the Joint Inter-Ministerial Working Group on Cooperation (JWG); the Strategic Dialogue Mechanism; and the 5-10 Year Strategic Framework on Cooperation signed in 2014, which serves as an overall implementation plan with respect to all existing agreements and frameworks.

DIRCO, which implements South Africa's foreign relations, in consultation with the Presidency and other government departments, said the Cabinet had in the past decided that representatives of government across all three spheres -- national, provincial and local -- co-ordinate all their foreign engagements with DIRCO so as to ensure synergy and maintain a cohesive approach in dealing with any international entity or government.

South Africa enjoys strong and mutual diplomatic and trade relations with the People's Republic of China," the statement said. "The two countries share membership of, and participate as partners on numerous international bodies, including Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa (BRICS), the BASIC Group on Climate Change (Brazil, India and China), the Group of 77 China and the G20 (Group of Twenty). South Africa and China are also Co-Chairs of the Forum on China-Africa Co-operation (FOCAC).

China is South Africa's biggest trading partner and is also the second biggest economy in the world.


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