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

Politics and peacekeeping: Japanese constitutional reform and its African implications

CCS_Commentary_Japan_Article_9_Rob_201520 January 2015

Since 2011, Japan has maintained a peacekeeping force in South Sudan. However, the recent reinterpretation of Article 9 of Japan’s post-war constitution – pushed through by the Abe administration despite domestic and regional disapproval – will have a significant impact on the nature and composition of Japanese peacekeeping operations in South Sudan and elsewhere. Japanese peacekeepers have, until recently, been constrained by Japan’s International Peace Cooperation Law (PKO). This law set out five guiding principles for Japanese peacekeeping operations. The fifth of these principles is particularly noteworthy. It states: “The use of weapons shall be limited to the minimum necessary to protect the lives of personnel, etc.” In practice, this only allowed Japanese troops to use their weapons for self-defence or emergency evacuations. It forbids them from firing warning shots when under attack or coming to the support of allies when they are under attack. Now that Article 9 of the Japanese constitution has been revised, Japanese peacekeepers can take on a greater variety of roles – including more combative ones. The reinterpretation also offers Japan a chance to increase its diplomatic capital in Africa – via peacekeeping – which will be beneficial in bi- and multi-lateral settings. [Continue reading]

By Robert AttwellCCS_Intern_Robert_4
Affiliate
Centre for Chinese Studies
Stellenbosch University

China Africa Development Fund: Beyond a foreign policy instrument

CCS_Commentary_CADF_QZ_201413 January 2015

The 2007-innitated China Africa Development Fund (CADFund), which facilitates Chinese investments in Africa, has attracted much attention from academics and practitioners. As one of the eight measurements put forward by former Chinese president Hu Jintao at the 2006 Forum on China Africa Cooperation (FOCAC), the fund has not been able to shake its reputation as a vehicle for Chinese political power. Nevertheless, a closer glance reveals that the CADFund is highly diversified, working more along market principles than as an instrument of government policy. [Continue reading]

By ZHANG QiaowenCCS_Affiliate_Zhang_Qiaowen_2014
CCS Affiliate
Centre for Chinese Studies
Stellenbosch University

Pollution and social stability in China: dispelling the obvious

CCS_Commentary_Pollution _HE_2014 (2)19 December 2014

In the last few decades China has experienced very rapid economic growth. Along with the economic growth, pollution, however, also worsened considerably, to the point where the Chinese Ministry of Health cites cancer (caused by pollution) as China’s leading cause of death. During this period of growing economic wealth and worsening pollution, China also witnessed an increase in the number of public protests. It is estimated that the number of protests have increased from just below 9000 per year in 1993, to over 90 000 in 2006 (the last number being an estimate by the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences). With high growth, leading to high levels of pollution and increasing numbers of protests, many analysts have drawn a direct line between the three citing pollution and environmental degradation as a catalyst for social unrest. Although studies have shown that environmental protests are indeed growing by around 30 per cent annually (Gang, 2009), it seems that the environment-protest link has been hugely overstated. For now, pollution is seen as a necessary evil on the road to industrialisation and wealth. However, though the direct link might be overstated, there is a different threat lurking: the mitigation costs of pollution in China have risen to such high levels that these have begun to threaten broad-based economic growth, indirectly feeding into structural inequality, which is a cause of political disaffection. [Continue reading]

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

South Africa-China relations: time to move from pledges to tangible outcomes

CCS_Commentary_China South Africa_YK_201410 December 2014

President Zuma’s state visit to China from 4 December 2014 to 5 December 2014 shows that the bi-lateral relationship between the two countries has now reached an apex. Before this trip, South Africa’s relationship with China had already deepened through various multi-lateral frameworks such as the G20, BRICS and the Forum on China–Africa Cooperation (FOCAC). Based on this increasingly close relationship at global and national level, certain questions now arise: what is in this relationship and where is it leading South Africa? [Continue reading]

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

Hong Kong showdown – missed opportunities

CCS_Commentary_Hong_Kong_Showdown_Missed_Opportunities_PT_2014

03 December 2014

Recent developments of the Hong Kong protests threaten a showdown which does not favor either of the parties involved. The arrest of more than one hundred people in the Mong Kok stronghold of the protest on the 26 November is one such indication. The use of coercion against the protestors will only strengthen the “democratic versus communist forces” thesis held by the majority of the observers. Such a showdown would only spell losses for the Central Government in its promotion of the “One country, two systems” policy in the process jeopardising the image of China abroad. [Continue reading]

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