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 crackdown on corruption and crime: domestic vs international

Commentary_China_crackdown_corruption_NT_March201523 March 2015

In the past few years, China has increasingly urged its citizens to abide by rules set by the host countries in which they operate, at times intervening in the breaking up of criminal syndicates. Despite such measures, Chinese-organised criminal groups operating in Africa are still highly functional. Additionally, in cases where Chinese citizens operating illegally in Africa’s mining sectors have been condemned by local authorities, the Chinese government has lacked visible intervention. With Chinese president Xi Jinping’s  rise to power, China has witnessed an unprecedented crack-down on corruption and other forms of criminal activity – just last month for instance, a Chinese mining tycoon, Liu Han, his brother Liu Wei and three other associates were executed in China on charges of corruption, organised criminal activity and murder. Liu Han’s case is not the first and presumably not the last in China’s increasing crackdown on corruption. The domestic zeal with which China is tackling corruption brings into contrast the more ambivalent attitude it has toward Chinese criminal activity abroad and the barriers it faces in stopping it. [Continue reading]

By Nuša TukićCCS_Research_Analyst_Nusa_Tukic_2013_6
Research Associate
Centre for Chinese Studies
Stellenbosch University

Chinese NGO’s can do more in the fight against wildlife crime

CCS_Commentary_ChineseENGOs_Wildlife_MB_16March201516 March 2015

In 2013, the United Nations (UN) decided to proclaim 3 March as World Wildlife Day to celebrate and raise awareness of the world’s wild fauna and flora. The theme for this year’s World Wildlife Day is “Wildlife Crime is serious: let’s get serious about wildlife crime”. The aim is to highlight the positive role that local communities can play in helping to curb illegal wildlife trade globally. Coincidently, the Chinese authorities announced a one-year moratorium on the import of ivory carvings some days after. The State Forestry Administration, which oversees China’s wildlife trade, published a notice of the temporary ban on its website, stating that the agency had stopped issuing import permits for carvings obtained since 1975, when a UN convention on international trade in endangered species went into effect. The moratorium was implemented to let the authorities evaluate a ban’s effectiveness in protecting African elephants. In many parts of Africa the increasing illegal wildlife poaching and demand for ivory and rhino horn is being driven by Chinese demand. Elephants are poached on a massive scale for their ivory, the majority of which is destined for the Chinese market. TRAFFIC reported that at least 20,000 African elephants were killed in 2013. Now that there is movement in addressing illegal wildlife trade at the policy level in China, is it not time that Chinese civil society and environmental non-governmental organisations (ENGOs) also become serious and active about wildlife crime? [Continue reading]

By Meryl BurgessCCS_Research_Analyst_Meryl_12
Research Analyst
Centre for Chinese Studies
Stellenbosch University

Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference…  the beginning of the end?

Picture111 March 2015

In the past week, China held two of its most symbolically important political events of the year – the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) and the National People’s Congress (NPC). The government has used the events to highlight a number of social reforms aimed at mitigating China’s slowing economy. While the Party and its allies exert a confidence in these measures, commentators have argued they are merely papering up the cracks – a process exemplified by the stage-managed nature of these conferences. But pundits have been wrong in the past. [Continue reading]

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

China-Africa rhetoric: lessons from the World Economic Forum

Commentary_Liam_China-Africa_rhetoric_201502 March 2015

The 2015 World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, held between the 21st and 24th January, was an arena in which Chinese political elites and leaders from the African continent could take respite from the intensity of the China-Africa relationship. WEF is an arena in which the two sides can “go-it-alone” and sell themselves and their countries to the rest of the world. During the four day event it became clear that the wider (somewhat reductive) rhetoric which tends to frame the China-Africa relationship (nations in-development, dependent, different, and damaged) played a disruptive hand for those looking to promote brand “Africa”. The rhetoric which stems from African and Chinese political classes regularly frames engagements on the (anti-)colonial past. Nevertheless, such rhetoric runs the risk of sustaining recognition of Africa as the damaged-other. Investors at Davos met African leaders under the haze of a continent portrayed as highly dependent, having a past unresolved and a future remaining uncertain. Such rhetoric has the power to remove African agency within multi-lateral environments. A better understanding of the power-politics at play within China-Africa rhetoric will enable investors, politicians and commentators to look beyond projections which otherwise hide a continent very much open for business. [Continue reading]

By Liam O’BrienCCS_Visiting_Scholar_Liam_Obrien_2015
Visiting Scholar
Centre for Chinese Studies
Stellenbosch University


Economic pragmatism in East Asia: a perspective from Taiwan

CCS_Commentary_Economic_Pragmatism_East_Asia_YK_201523 February 2015

Since the Communists defeated the Kuomintang (KMT or Nationalist Party) in 1949 and the KMT moved to the island of Taiwan, the two Chinas – the People’s Republic of China (PRC) and the Republic of China (Taiwan) – have competed for international legitimacy and recognition as the “government of China”. Both parties have had a long-standing diplomatic tug-of-war with each other for decades. However, it seems that Taiwan and China have become economically dependent; Taiwan in particular has opted for pragmatic co-operation with China. One of the most prominent examples of this is the Cross-Straits Economic Co-operation Framework Agreement (ECFA) signed in 2010 with the PRC, which aims to reduce tariffs and commercial barriers between the two sides. The ECFA has become a catalyst of Taiwan’s endeavour to become an economic regional hub. Against this background, this commentary provides a glimpse of the economic relations of Taiwan with its counterparts in East Asia. [Continue reading]

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