State Media Gloats: South Africa Appoints First Chinese Police Chief

The Associated Press
AP Photo/Andy Wong

Sun Yaoheng became the first Chinese police chief of the South African municipality of Johannesburg and is currently in charge of a staff of over 7,600 people, a testament to the growing presence of people from China, Africa’s largest trading partner, the state-run People’s Daily newspaper reported Monday.

The South African municipality has credited its first Chinese police chief, who has also served as a city councilor for ten years, with making Johannesburg “safer” by sending his colleagues to China for training, the state-run outlet boasted.

According to the People’s Daily, Sun, who migrated to Africa at a young age, became the police chief of Johannesburg in 2016 as the city vowed to improve local security.

The newspaper noted:

In 2016, Sun was appointed as the police chief of Johannesburg, who is also the first Chinese in this position. Sun said that he is now in charge of the city’s police, firefighting, disaster rescue, and traffic control system, with over 7,600 staff in total.

After taking over, Sun focused on fighting police corruption first, and implemented several action plans to improve traffic control and firefighting.

Before Sun’s tenure, analysts had designated Johannesburg one of the world’s most violent cities due to its murder rate.

Mexico’s Citizens’ Council for Public Security and Criminal Justice, a non-governmental organization that ranks the 50 most violent cities outside a war zone, ranked Johannesburg as the 47th deadliest with about 30 homicides per 100,000 inhabitants.

The People’s Daily acknowledged that the Mexico NGO had not listed the city in its most recent assessments (2016, 2017), crediting the drop and crime to Sun’s decision to send his colleagues to China for training.

It reports:

Sun usually sent his colleagues to China for short-term exchanges and trainings. In May 2018, Sun lead a delegation to Shenzhen in south China to learn from the local police force regarding good practices for ensuring city security, while six senior police officers went to central China’s Wuhan to attend trainings on city security and video monitoring networks, by means of which the South African civil servants could get up to date impressions regarding China and were able to understand more about Chinese culture.

China has expanded its financial investments and overall presence across Africa, prompting U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration to vow to counter what it considers to be Beijing’s nefarious ambitions in Africa.

The U.S. has accused China of “predatory” lending practices intended to bury borrower countries’ in debt to undermine their sovereignty, an assertion that Beijing has repeatedly denied.

In December 2018, Assistant Secretary of State Tibor Nagy cautioned U.S. lawmakers of China’s growing economic, military, and political influence across Africa, home to some of the world’s fastest-growing economies and trillions of dollars’ worth of natural resources,” the Associated Press (AP) noted last month as the Trump administration unveiled its Africa strategy.

As the continent’s top trading partner, China has surfaced as the top U.S. competitor in Africa.

Hundreds of thousands of Chinese nationals have poured into Africa, following the billions of dollars Beijing has invested in high-profile infrastructure projects across the continent.

There are an estimated one million Chinese nationals in Africa with South Africa boasting “the largest ethnic Chinese population in Africa, with consensus estimates putting the number at more than 350,000,” Asia Times reported in January 2017.

Yun Sun, Co-Director from the Stimson Center think-tank, and other experts recently warned U.S. lawmakers that China is using its economic clout in Africa to promote a “new international order” and encourage countries to adopt its communist ideology.

In 2017, Beijing opened its first overseas military base last year in the Horn of Africa nation of Djibouti, home to the only permanent U.S. military base on the continent.


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