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

Power entanglement in regional integration frameworks

 Picture126 October 2015

The negotiations of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a free trade agreement between the United States (US) and 11 other countries in the Asia Pacific Rim (Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam), have recently been finalised and will soon go to each country’s legislature for approval. Considering the recent slowdown in global trade, the TPP is expected to be one of the biggest regional free trade zones which will bring economic benefits as a result of trade liberalisation. Despite its economic clout, the absence of China from the TPP has led to the speculation that the TPP is an attempt by the US to challenge the growing Chinese influence through a regional economic integration framework. Even though some commentators argue that the TPP and the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) can be mutually-reinforcing for regional economic integration, it seems that competition has sprung up between this US-led structure and the RCEP led by China. [Continue reading]

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

Taiwan wary of Burkina Faso’s political turmoil

CCS_Commentary_Taiwan_Wary_Yen_12 October 201512 October 2015

Burkina Faso, which witnessed a popular uprising a year ago, experienced a setback on its way to restore political normalcy when a coup led by former chief of staff and head of the elite Regiment of Presidential Security, General Gilbert Diendéré, took place in September and temporarily ousted the transitional government led by President Michel Kafando and Prime Minister Yacouba Isaac Zida. Under pressure from the international community, protests by the civil society, and an unwavering stand by the military, the putsch lasted only a week before the transitional team was reinstated. The turmoil caused a certain degree of uneasiness in Taipei about Ouagadougou’s change of government as it might also lead to a change of recognition to Beijing. Burkina Faso is one of only three diplomatic allies of Taiwan in Africa. [Continue reading]

By Chen-shen YenCCS_Commentary_Taiwan_Wary_Yen_12 October 2015 (2)
Research Fellow, Institute of International Relations
Secretary General, Forum of African Studies on Taiwan
National Chengchi University

China-US relations: pragmatism… for now

Capture05 October 2015

Xi Jinping’s visit to the United States (US) over the 24th and 25th of September has come at a time when relations between the two nations have been challenged on a number of fronts. In the South and East China Sea, for instance, China claims sovereignty over a number of jurisdictions which overlap with parallel claims by Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia, Taiwan and Japan, causing friction with the US. China’s new assertiveness has led the White House to, ‘Pivot’ or ‘rebalance’ toward Asia (Post World War II, the US has played a strong security role in the region, particularly in Japan and Korea). Additionally, China’s bolstering of forums such as BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa), and its New Development Bank, have openly challenged the Euro-American Bretton Woods system with its Western-dominated financial institutions, the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF). Recently, the launch of the Asian International Infrastructure Bank (AIIB), with a number of global players (Germany, the United Kingdom, France, South Africa) but excluding the US (who declined to join), has added fuel to the accusation of a growing rift between the US and China. Additionally, accusations of cyber theft and espionage, from both the US and Chinese sides, has done little to ease tensions. Thus, it may come as a surprise that Xi Jinping’s recent visit to the US, far from being used as a platform of unilateralism, was carried out in the spirit of economic and political internationalism. [Continue reading]

By Ross AnthonyCCS_Research_Fellow_Ross_Anthony_2014
Interim Director
Centre for Chinese Studies
Stellenbosch University

Stability through Crisis: Chinese neoliberal development practices promote sustainability and security for Africa?

CCS_Stability_through Crisis_LOB_201523 September 2015

For the African continent, and those within the field of International Development, the current stock market crisis within the People’s Republic of China (P.R.C.) has raised concerns for an African population that has come to rely heavily upon Chinese development assistance to alleviate issues of health, education, food security, infrastructure, and energy. Governments (both East and West), commentators and critics are already poised to draw attention to the first signs that the P.R.C. will slow its contributions and reverse commitments. Reporting of the crisis has been one of concern and mainly economic in nature. Using historical analysis to assess the current situation can provide an alternative assessment around what the crisis will mean for Africa, not only now, but also within a future where capitalism’s cyclical process of ‘boom and bust’ will see crisis as the accepted norm. Taking a look at the impact of the 2008 global financial crisis on the Africa continent, combined with an understanding of the changes seen within practices of international development (a transition from ‘aid’ to ‘trade’), will show that the approach to development adopted by China will have support for African nations continue, rather than, decline.  This contrasts with ‘traditional’ partners (Europe and America) who took to withdrawing their commitments following 2008. [Continue reading]

By Liam O’BrienCCS_Visiting_Scholar_Liam_Obrien_2015
PhD Candidate
University of St Andrews
United Kingdom

Focussing FOCAC on bankability: turning ink on paper into renewable energy power

CCS_FOCAC_Funding_for_Renewable_Energy_HE_201514 September 2015

With the Forum on China-Africa Co-operation (FOCAC) on the horizon, it is important to consider what impact, if any, FOCAC has had on the China-Africa development landscape. Despite several promises, looking at the renewable energy sector as one example of China-Africa co-operation, it is clear that there is not enough interaction on the ground. There is a gap between the geo-political discourse of FOCAC on the one side and actually reaching businesses and non-government actors on the other. The disparity between the “high” FOCAC political sphere and “lower level” relevance has led to a discussion in academia where it has even been questioned whether FOCAC is meant to have a role beyond political discourse. What is needed is bankability and clear government support to business, especially on the African side. [Continue reading]

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