Commentary

Commentaries are written by Research Analysts at the Centre and focus on current and topical discussions or media events with regard to China or China/Africa relations. Occasionally, the CCS accepts commentaries from non-CCS affiliated writers with expertise in specific fields. Their views do not necessarily reflect those of the CCS. Commentaries can be used freely by the media or other members of the interested public if duly referenced to the author(s) and the CCS

A new round of AGOA: Is Africa ready for opportunity?

Picture113 May 2015

The African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) is set to expire on 30 September 2015. The act was designed to promote export-led economic growth in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) and, furthermore, trade between the continent and the United States (US) under the theme of “trade rather than aid”. Since its inauguration in 2000, a number of African countries have benefitted from the programme. The textile industry, in particular, has experienced rapid growth and job creation in several countries. Thus, prior to AGOA’s expiration this year, there has been a series of visits and consultations led by a delegation comprising the African Union mission, the African Development Bank mission, and high-level diplomats. They aimed to emphasise the importance of a long-term renewal of AGOA. Expecting re-authorisation, probably for 10 to 15 years as many African countries wish, it is a critical time to reflect on the past 15 years. [Continue reading]

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

Xenophobia in South Africa: implications for Chinese communities

CCS_Commentary_Xenophobia_Ross_201530 April 2015

The recent xenophobic attacks which have occurred in South Africa have consisted largely of local disenfranchised groups attacking those even more disenfranchised, namely foreign migrants of the poorest economic strata who often lack legal protection. While communities from the western world have remained largely unscathed, Asian communities fared less well. Instances of violence against Pakistanis and Bangladeshis were reported, as were instances of Chinese shops being looted. The Chinese in particular may become an increasingly vulnerable group, if such events continue to occur in the future. [Continue reading]

By Dr Ross Anthony CCS_Research_Fellow_Ross_Anthony_2014
Interim Director
Centre for Chinese Studies
Stellenbosch University

Teaching Mandarin at South African schools – empowerment or submission

CCS_Commentary_Teaching_Mandarin_at_SA_schools_PT_201522 April 2015

The South African Department of Basic Education (DBE) has approved the teaching of the Chinese language in public schools with Grades four to twelve having an option of learning Mandarin as an additional language. The recent law, documented in the government notice R 234, 20 March 2015, stipulates the teaching of Mandarin as a selective language in 2016. The law marks a new turn in the manifestation of China-Africa relations in a variety of ways; the law is the first piece of legislation regarding China which directly impacts on South African education. Secondly, it has a possibility of a projected impact in preparing future generations of leaders, scientists, industrialists and citizens in general. Can South Africa afford not to introduce Mandarin in its school curriculum in view that it may provide a platform and a window for understanding China and its role in the global affairs? [Continue reading]

By Dr Paul TembeCCS_Image_Research_Fellow_Paul_2014_02
Research Fellow
Centre for Chinese Studies
Stellenbosch University

The Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank –the logic behind the creation

CCS_Commentary_The_Aisan_Infrastructure_bank_YK_201514 April 2015

China’s new multi-lateral development bank, the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) has recently received a great deal of attention. The AIIB is one of the significant initiatives, together with the New Development Bank (NDB), that China has pushed forward since 2014. On March 31st, more than 40 countries signed up to join this new institution. Due to the huge infrastructure gaps in Asia, the bank will contribute to financing various social infrastructure projects, especially in the region’s developing countries. Yet the creation of the AIIB has re-invigorated questions with regards to whether China aspires to reshape the existing world system through the AIIB and the NDB, amongst others. [Continue reading]

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

Under the Dome of the CCP – interpreting the success of China’s viral environmental documentary

CCS_Commentary_Under_the_Dome_HE_201530 March 2015

A recently-released environmental documentary, Under the Dome, by Chai Jing, a former investigative reporter at CCTV, has caused much interest both internationally and domestically in China. The documentary examines the smog problem in China, caused by massive air pollution, and some of the reasons for its increasing severity over the last few years. Through observing reactions to the documentary, one of the big surprises was that it was praised by the government, including the Minister of Environmental Protection, Chen Jining, who called it China’s “silent spring” (of the environment). This was doubly remarkable considering that the documentary implicates the Chinese government as partially responsible for the smog problem and discusses instances of government corruption. The government’s “self-reflection” was, however, short-lived and within days, the documentary had been erased from China’s strictly censored internet. So what happened? Was it a slip on the government’s part to praise a semi-critical documentary or was there more to the reaction and consequential censorship? [Continue reading]

By Harrie EsterhuyseCCS_Research_Analyst_Harrie_2013_12
Research Analyst / Deputy Editor
Centre for Chinese Studies
Stellenbosch University