Marcel Berlins on the Guardian:

The Chinese population of South Africa suffered much discrimination under apartheid. They were not treated as badly as were black South Africans, but were still subject to many indignities and prohibitions. They fought hard against their second-class status and eventually, even before the end of apartheid, most of the legal barriers were removed or disregarded.

So there was something ironically surreal in last week’s decision by South Africa’s high court that the Chinese - at their own request - should be classified as black. The motive was financial - access to various black economic empowerment schemes available to the victims of apartheid. To qualify, they had to be regarded as black. Hence the court case.