The Japanese cabinet recently amended the constitution to expand the role of the Self-Defence Force (SDF). The defining characteristic of Japan’s post-Second World War constitution was its emphasis on pacifism as a national policy. This limited Japan’s military activities to the purely defensive and outlawed uni-lateral foreign engagements – although provision is made for multi-lateral engagements. For example, SDF soldiers are acting as peacekeepers in South Sudan and the Japanese Maritime Self-Defence Force (JMSDF) has a naval base in Djibouti for anti-piracy operations. Recently, however, Japan’s cabinet revised the constitution to allow for acts of “collective self-defence” and to expand the roles of the various arms of the SDF. The inclusion of collective self-defence allows the Japanese military to come to the aid of an ally should the ally be attacked by a third party. A significant reason attributed to this shift is to do with Japan and China’s disputes over territorial waters and islands in the EastChina Sea and, by extension, Chinese disputes with other maritime powers in the South China Sea (including Vietnam, the Philippines and Taiwan). For Japan, the move is a balancing act on all sides, in which it has to weigh up Chinese overt protest, American tacit support and deep domestic ambivalence. [Continue reading]
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.
Revising Japan’s constitution: Domestic and international contexts
China-Africa co-operation: a mind shift east
Within the broad process of globalisation, the economic effects of the China-Africa relationship are having affects in various other aspects of social life. For instance, in Guanzhou, in the south-west of China, there are an abundance of African students. On the Chinese television channel CCTV, there is a thirty minute program every day devoted to Africa (with a bureau in Nairobi), and the Chinese publication ChinaAfrica can be bought in bookstores all over Africa. There are currently over thirty Confucius Institutes in Africa and the number is growing; the centres have proved popular, with reports from Nairobi University claiming its students are “hooked” on Chinese. Many students from Africa now receive scholarships to further their studies in China. The South African Department of Basic Education and its Chinese counterparts recently signed an agreement that Chinese would be taught in South African secondary schools. However, while such cultural exchanges have helped toward dispelling fears of the ethnic “other” – be they Chinese or African – there is still a long way to go before true mutual cultural acceptance can be achieved. [Continue reading]
China’s domestic environmentalism and its global implications
On a recent trip to the Chinese city of Changchun, in Jilin Province, I visited Jingyuetan National Forest Park – a protected wilderness area on the outskirts of the city. Even though the forest park is predominantly a tourist attraction with many development projects taking place around the park, there nevertheless remains a focus on environmental protection and keeping the forest park clean from waste. This was a reassuring observation considering the enormous amount of industrial development and urbanisation (with harsh effects of pollution) I witnessed elsewhere in China. However, as someone who researches China’s environmental impact on Africa, such parks left me wondering how this domestic, eco-friendly turn, squares up with China’s international environmental impact, as it “goes global”. [Continue reading]
Message from CCS Director Sven Grimm – change at the helm of the CCS
After about four years at the Centre for Chinese Studies (CCS), I will step down as director of the CCS with effect of 30 June 2014. The CCS has grown quite substantially in capacity and is a great team, as you will have noticed. We are in our 10th year of existence, which, in itself, is no small feat! Managing the day-to-day business of the CCS does obviously require a full-time commitment. My family and I have decided to return to Europe. The centre will be fully managed by my colleague Dr Ross Anthony from 1 July onwards. In the last two months, we have quietly prepared the handover at the CCS; quite a few things have been co-managed by Ross already and he is a very good choice to take up the baton as Acting Head of the CCS. [Continue reading]
Emerging and growing economies: same same but different?
While some countries, particularly those which bore the brunt of the 2008-2009 financial crisis, are noticing an economic recovery, countries which were at that time enjoying stable growth, currently see their economy in difficulty. During the years following the financial crisis, a lot has been written and said about growing or emerging economies. A number of those countries are developing countries. For instance, it has been mentioned that a few African countries are among the world’s fastest growing economies. But the paradox is that analysts tend to forget the previous economic indicators of those countries, which were either poor or low. While some countries noticed growth, such growth did not contribute to developing infrastructure, creating jobs, bridging the income gap between rich and poor people. In many countries; particularly in Africa, the growth is linked to the increasing foreign investments in the energy sector and the rise in commodities price. However at the micro level, targets have not been met and the number of strikes and protests can justify the unsustainable growth. China, South Africa and Brazil are three cases which highlight the broader economic challenges now facing developing nations. [Continue reading]
By Dr Daouda Cissé
Centre for Chinese Studies