Naval exercise is win for China bid to establish Africa-South America military axis

FPI / February 1, 2023


By Richard Fisher

South Africa, China and Russia will hold their second trilateral naval exercise from Feb. 17 to 27, a clear victory for China’s program of militarizing its quasi-alliance structures that could soon create an axis for Africa-South American military cooperation.

A People’s Liberation Army Navy frigate arrives in South Africa for trilateral naval exercises with Russia in November 2019. / Xinhua

South Africa abstained from the March 2022 United Nations’ vote to condemn Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and Pretoria allowed this exercise to be scheduled to distract from the Feb. 24 one year anniversary of Russia’s brutal invasion.

South Africa, however, downplayed any concern from their hosting Chinese and Russian naval combatants for a second time.

On Jan. 23, South Africa News quoted South African Defence and Military Veterans Minister, Thandi Modise, saying, “The envisaged exercise will benefit all countries involved through interoperability of the naval systems, joint disaster systems management enhancement, maritime cooperation and anti-piracy exercises.”

South Africa, along with Brazil, Russia, India and China are the original members of the BRICS quasi-alliance founded in 2006.

But this could grow; In 2017 China began promoting “BRICS-Plus” and during his June 23, 2022 speech before the BRICS Summit, Chinese Communist Party leader Xi Jinping stated, “many countries have asked to join the BRICS cooperation mechanism.”

During the 2022 BRICS summit Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said “over a dozen countries” have applied to join BRICS and both Russia and China have long regarded the BRICS formation as a weapon to undermine Western influence by promoting coordination in the G20 and other major international forums.

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