South African Police Minister Bheki Cele and a group of his senior officials visited China last week for five days of talks and training with Chinese police officers. Their agenda included talks on security preparations for August’s BRICS summit in Johannesburg, South Africa, and on the security of China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) projects.
The South African Government described Cele’s trip was described as “successful” and a “fruitful engagement” between the police forces of both countries.
“Although we share a rich history with China and have had multiple collaborations with our law enforcement agencies over the years, we are encouraged by the new avenues we are exploring to strengthen South African law enforcement techniques with our Chinese counterparts,” said Cele his return to South Africa.
“First prize for our two countries is a reinvigorated policing partnership that will translate into keeping citizens safe and improving policing through technology, expertise and a modernized, people-centric South African police service,” he said.
The South African delegation visited police stations in the major Chinese cities of Beijing, Shanghai and Shenzhen and received “combat and educational training” at China’s top police academy, the China People’s Public Security University in Beijing.
The Chinese police have shown significant brutality against protesters and routine arrests of dissidents on purely political grounds, throwing prisoners into an opaque “judicial system”. grotesque caricature of the court system in free nations.
South Africa’s Police Department assured Voice of America News (VOA) said on Thursday that Cele’s delegation was only interested in “smart policing” and “collaborating with Chinese law enforcement to support technological advances.”
The ministry said Cele met with Chinese Minister of Public Security Wang Xiaohong to “establish a formal and rigorous program of personnel skills sharing and training for police between the two countries.”
VOA noted that China has developed extensive police cooperation with several African countries, has trained over 2,000 African law enforcement officers at Chinese academies over the past five years, and has provided equipment to African armed forces.
“China’s growing frontlines and public security tactics in Africa have sparked debates about how much sovereignty African countries are giving up by offering Chinese security agencies an extremely permissive environment to create a growing mix of security mechanisms within African countries,” the Africa said Center for Strategic Studies (ACSS). ) said in a report published last month.
The report cited instances where African police forces assisted Chinese intelligence in activities such as extraditing Taiwanese nationals to Chinese courts and interrogating Chinese dissidents.
ACSS noted that Chinese police training “incorporates political and ideological tenets based on the Chinese Communist Party’s model of absolute party control over security forces and the state,” representing a dramatic shift from the government and police models used in most enshrined in African constitutions.
One of the key concepts that China brings to African policing is white, a term meaning “preservation of stability”. In practice, weiwen means protecting the stability of the government – and the power of the permanent ruling party – at all costs.
“The widespread application of this concept in Africa is problematic given the resurgence of dominant one-party states and authoritarian practices and the possibility of using Weiwen as a justification for staying in power. At Weiwen, human rights, civil liberties and public accountability are secondary,” the report said.
ACSS said that “around 40 African countries have some sort of arrangement with Chinese public security agencies” and 13 now have extradition treaties with China. As recently as 2018, no African country had an extradition treaty with China.