The project engages in an empirical comparison between the economic relations of South Africa and the PRC, and South Africa and Taiwan, in light of the (potentially conflicting) foreign policy doctrine of ‘One China’. As its primary question, this research will examine the extent of political reach into the economic exchanges which occur between the three parties, with a specific focus on South Africa’s ability to navigate its way through such a challenging relationship. The project examines ways in which the harnessing and deployment of non-state-actors enables South Africa to adapt to new political contexts. More broadly, it is anticipated that this research will shed light on the primacy of economic trade with regards to South Africa’s foreign policy toward East Asia, and an underlying pragmatism which may be at odds with official policy.
The Centre for Chinese Studies (CCS) is researching Chinese engagement in Africa. Its main vocation is exploring the variety of interactions and actors in Sino-African relations, with an analytical interest in the political, economic, social and environmental sustainability of Chinese engagement in Africa.
Beyond the reality of Chinese engagement in African states, the CCS is seeking to explore drivers for China’s Africa engagement, as understanding internal and international drivers in China is necessary to assess the potential in and direction of the relationship. Furthermore, the CCS aspires to apply a comparative perspective, comparing Chinese engagement to the engagement of other external actors in Africa – both emerging economies and ‘traditional’ development partners – so as to explore distinctive features and common issues in the engagement of external actors in African states.
The CCS research interests can be clustered in three main thematic strands in Chinese-African engagement:
• Exploring partnership(s) – The actors in the engagement
• Innovation and cooperation – Sino-African economic relations
• Sustainable engagement – Social and environmental aspects of Chinese engagement
Given its broad research agenda, the CCS is necessarily multi-disciplinary in its research. It is particularly seeking collaborative work with scholars from Africa, China and other academic centres with a similar interest.