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Governance in emerging relations

China has been developing a more involved engagement with the government of South Sudan and its ruling party, the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM). Governance is fundamental to the nature of, and prospects, for China’s current and future relations with South Sudan. It is inextricably tied both to China’s ability to deliver and sustain a developmental contribution, and to South Sudan’s prospects for managing China’s engagement to advance its own development goals.

Although South Sudan’s relations with China are unique, this emerging governance dimension is also reflected more widely. By virtue of its deepening relations with Africa, China is necessarily having to confront and become increasingly involved in African politics in general, and questions of state capacity in particular.

This policy briefing highlights the following recommendations:

  • the development of new institutional co-operation mechanisms between China and South Sudan to
    generally promote ties, and enhance the efficacy of working relations that can tackle development needs in
    particular, is a positive step that should be encouraged
  • properly managed according to South Sudan’s needs, China is a development partner that can beneficially assist the new state. However, the government of South Sudan would benefit from a more strategic and focused policy
    engagement while seeking to harness China’s potential to contribute to economic development in sustainable,
    longer-term ways
  • better public communication would redress the lack of information about China’s finance to South Sudan, and
    help address popular misperceptions and grievances over China’s role. More widely available information would also help other actors in terms of their plans and ensure a greater degree of policy co-ordination
  • China’s deepening governance engagement, beyond South Sudan, is first and foremost a matter for African
    governments; it is a significant policy trend that impacts on other external policy engagements, of which African
    leaders need to be fully aware