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

China’s “One Belt, One Road” strategy meets the UAE’s Look East Policy

CCS_Commentary_China_One_Belt_ES_201513 July 2015

From 8 May 2015 to 15 May 2015, Dubai, the second largest state of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), hosted a first of its kind seven-day trade exhibition bringing together prominent government leaders, high net worth individuals and global corporate giants in Beijing. The week intended to showcase the opportunities Dubai presents for China and to promote a deeper understanding of Dubai as relations flourish between these two global trading centres. [Continue reading]

By Emma ScottCCS_Visiting_Scholar_Emma_2013
Research Affiliate
Centre for Chinese Studies
Stellenbosch University

Misconceptions and omissions in the China-Africa discourse

CCS_Commentary_Misconceptions_PT_201506 July 2015

The rapid economic development ushered in by the 1978 reform and opening policies in China reached its culmination towards the end of the last decade. The 2008 world recession has also affected the manner in which China is studied by the outside world, especially in relation to its involvement in Africa. The tendency is witnessed in the gradual shift from using economic development as a framework for studying China to a more multi-disciplinary one. Such change is most discernible in the emerging scholarship that studies China-Africa relations. While studies focusing on economic co-operation, direct foreign investments and general trade taking place within the framework of China-Africa relations persist, there is a rapid emergence of scholarship whose focus is on subjects that go beyond economics. These include issues of politics, culture, society and philosophy, covering issues such as the presence of Chinese workers in Africa, presence of Chinese military in Africa, forms of Chinese soft power towards Africa and similarities between traditional Chinese and African values. A dominant theme in this field focuses on teasing out what Africa can learn from China and its economic success story. However, a common misconception in this area is that Africa is often portrayed as a singular entity, with a singular historical trajectory. [Continue reading]

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

Chinese companies awarded US$ 9 billion to construct railways in Tanzania

Commentary_China_Tanzania_Infrastructure_NT_June_201529 June 2015

Tanzania’s relations with China date back to the 1960s, when Chinese construction firms developed  what has come to be known as the flagship project of China in Africa, the Tanzania-Zambia railway (TAZARA). The aim was to give Zambia an alternative export route to the apartheid stricken South African route, thus easing commodity export as well as improving connectivity for the Zambian and Tanzanian people. On the 31 May 2015, Tanzanian authorities announced that Chinese railway companies, led by the China Railway Materials (CRM) consortium have been awarded US$ 7.46 billion to build a 2,561 km standard gauge railway connecting Dar es Salaam port to land-locked neighbours. In addition, China Railway No.2 Engineering Group Co. Ltd., was awarded US$ 1.4 billion to build a 1000km railway line linking coal and iron ore mine projects in Southern Tanzania, to the southern port of Mtwara. This development can be viewed as part of a broader trans-regional east-African transport and energy network involving Chinese partners- the most prominent of which is the Lamu Port-Southern Sudan-Ethiopia Transport project (LAPSET). Such developments have significant implications for East Africa, not only in terms of intra-regional travel and trade, but also intra-regional competition, which has the potential to speed up economic growth. [Continue reading]

By Nuša TukićCCS_Research_Analyst_Nusa_Tukic_2013_6
Research Associate
Centre for Chinese Studies
Stellenbosch University

G7 and the partnership with Africa

CCS_Commentary_G7_Grimm_Mbeva_201522 June 2015

The thematic range of the G7, the heads of state and government of major advanced economies, is shifting away from “mere” economics, towards questions of how to react to climate change, how to address communicable diseases (based on the Ebola experience) and how to counter terrorism. In other words: how to secure provision of global public goods. Paradoxically, the G7 is facing growing expectations when in relation to global GDP its members are now economically substantially less powerful than in the 1970s. Consequently, global solutions require a broader participation – not least so from the so-called rising powers, such as China, India, Brazil and others. At best, the G7 and the BRICS complement each other. [Continue reading]

By Dr Sven GrimmDr. Grimm
Extraordinary Associate Professor
Centre for Chinese Studies
Stellenbosch University

Kennedy MbevaContributed_Kennedy_Mbeva
Research Fellow
African Center for Technology Studies

Nairobi, Kenya

EU imposed tariffs on Chinese solar PV companies – counter-intuitive or smart?

CCS_Commentary_EU_China_Solar_PV_Tariffs_HE_201508 June 2015

Chinese solar photovoltaic (PV) companies have had a spectacular rise in the decade and a half since 2002. By making use of government sponsored loans, subsidised land and other factors, such as cheap labour, Chinese companies have been able to forge a strong position for themselves in the global PV market. In fact, Chinese solar PV companies have been able to out-compete companies from Europe and the United States of America (USA). This success, however, has come at a cost: after the European Union (EU) and USA found that Chinese solar PV companies were unfairly advantaged by Chinese government support, tariffs, quotas and a minimum import price (MIP) have been imposed. Recently it has been found that Chinese solar PV companies are dodging these measures by using circumvention techniques. With new EU investigations looming and tariffs already having been set for imports from Taiwan (one of the countries used for circumvention) the pressure is again mounting against China’s already oversupplied solar PV industry. In this scenario, one cannot help but ask whether cheap Chinese solar PV, in the context of the current global need for alternative energy forms, is not actually better for the “global good” than protectionism that pushes prices higher? It was after all this overproduction that forced prices down in the first place. [Continue reading]

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