The Centre for Chinese Studies

The Centre for Chinese Studies (CCS), at Stellenbosch University, serves as the most prominent and high quality point of reference for the study of China and East Asia on the African continent.

Latest Commentary

Regional economic integration in Africa: Lessons from Southeast Asia

24 August 2015

South Africa has recently relied heavily on the use of multi-lateral diplomacy in its foreign policy. South Africa has, for example, built up relationships with emerging countries in organisations such as BRICS and the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC). It has, however, not exerted much leadership in its relationships with neighbouring countries in the region. With regard to regional organisations in Southern Africa, the Southern African Development Community (SADC) has also committed itself to pursuing economic integration through various mechanisms such as the SADC Free Trade Area (FTA) to address the challenge of small and fragmented markets. As the major economic player of this region, one would assume that South Africa would exert more leadership in this process, however, that has not been the case. Moreover, investments from within the regional communities continue to lack on the African continent. This commentary looks at cases of multi-lateralism in Southeast Asia where regional economic integration has taken place in order to gain some insights for African economic communities. [Continue reading]

By Dr Yejoo KimCCS_Research_Analyst_Yejoo_10
Research Fellow
Centre for Chinese Studies
Stellenbosch University


CCS FOCAC Policy Briefing (RSA): South Africa-China multi-lateral co-operation: BRICS and FOCAC

CCS_PB_BRICS_FOCAC_YK_NT_2015_0811Policy Briefing No. 3 – August 2015

The 21st Century has witnessed the emergence of a number of non-western powers, many of which have entered into formal partnerships, driven predominantly by a common development agenda. A prominent engagement within this new context is the China-South Africa relationship which, in recent years, has been strengthened through both bi-lateral exchanges as well as various multi-lateral frameworks. Two major partnerships include BRICS, an association of five major emerging economies – Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa, and FOCAC, the Forum on China–Africa Cooperation – a triennial ministerial meeting whose aim is to enhance co-operation between China and African states at multiple levels. South Africa’s inclusion in the BRICS grouping bestows on it a prestigious position in the continent as well as in the global arena. At the upcoming FOCAC VI in 2015, it is expected that South Africa as co-chair will yet again show its commitment in taking initiatives to resolve Africa’s challenges. This Policy Brief discusses the importance of South Africa’s growing role in these groupings with a focus on how its membership can contribute to South Africa’s sustainable development and help it to garner opportunities.

[Download English version reading] [Download Chinese version]

CCS FOCAC Policy Briefing (RSA): Preparing for FOCAC VI: China-South Africa co-operation in conservation and renewable energy

CCS_PB_SA_China_FOCAC_MB_HE_2015_02Policy Briefing No. 4 – August 2015

As China’s development puts increasing pressure on the environment, various measures have been implemented both domestically and, increasingly, abroad in an attempt to limit the impact. China’s environmental engagement at an international level, including the agreement between the United States (US) President Barack Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping to cut carbon emissions (12 November 2014), signals the growing urgency of the issue. Within the context of the China-South Africa engagement, there are also signs of this shift. Two key areas where this is evident are in China’s growing role in conservation and the renewable energy sector. China’s domestic demand for wildlife goods has motivated the Chinese government to sign a number of Memorandums of Understanding (MoUs) with African governments. In the renewable energy sector again, Africa’s energy needs and untapped capacity for electricity generation from renewable energy (RE) has created a vast potential market for global Chinese renewable energy firms. Both areas have become increasingly important topics within China-Africa relations, and feature on the Forum of China Africa Co-operation (FOCAC) agenda. This policy brief examines the role of these two themes as a way of demonstrating some of the concrete ways in which China-Africa interaction is evolving in a world where sustainable development has become key.

[ Download English version] [Download Chinese version]

CCS FOCAC Policy Briefing (RSA): The temptations and promotion of “China Dream”: calling for Africa’s home-grown rhetoric

CCS_PB_SA_FOCAC_PT_2015Policy Briefing No. 5 – August 2015

Scholars have raised concerns that political rhetoric manifest in China-Africa relations tend to replicate China’s domestic ideals on the African continent. The exercise is witnessed in the coupling of the “Chinese Dream” and the “African Dream” in the rhetoric of China-Africa relations. In essence, the slogan “African Dream” is framed within the historical trajectory of “Chinese Dream” which articulates China’s reform policy implementation goals for the 21st century. The “Chinese Dream” is the first Chinese political slogan which has been witnessed to directly seek spaces and manifest beyond China’s domestic borders. Such manifestation deviates from China’s past political norms, that of limiting political propaganda to domestic consumption. One of the spaces used beyond China’s borders to promote the Chinese Dream has been the media; this includes African media outlets. Media groups such as CCTV international and Xinhua have African headquarters where they have partnered and co-operate with a variety of local media agencies. South Africa is no exception. The People’s Daily Online established a subsidiary company in South Africa and has linkages to the New Age newspaper, a state newspaper in South Africa. In addition, African academics, journalists and students have since 2013 been invited to China to participate in the “Chinese Dream” promotional events. It is within this context that the notion “Chinese Dream” has found fertile ground to manifest and even replicate itself on the African continent in the form of the “African Dream”. This policy brief discusses the domestic context of the Chinese Dream and analyses its extension into Africa in the form of the “African Dream”. It concludes with recommendations on the need to establish an African home-grown rhetoric that will help Africa maximise gains in the spaces provided by China’s paradigm shift and offer lessons that will better prepare China for its engagement in Africa.

[Download English version] [Download Chinese version]

Applications open: Postdoctoral Research Fellowship in East Asian (Chinese) and African Studies

Apply now!Full Logo_revSGls

The Centre for Chinese Studies is currently advertising a Postdoctoral Research Fellowship in East Asian (Chinese) and African Studies. For more information please have a look at the full advertisement [here].

Deadline: 31 August 2015 (CAT)

CCS in the Media

“Africa Check: ANC research head’s claim China has ‘opposition parties’ is misleading” – DailyMaverick

CCS_Logo_Daily_Maverick_201520 August 2015

After a recent study tour of China, African National Congress head of research Thami Ka Plaatjie reported that the country has as many as five ‘opposition parties’. But he was not comparing apples with apples. [Read full article]