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

Responsible investing in Africa: building China’s competitiveness

CCS_Commentary_CSR_China_Africa_Zhang_201518 February 2015

With the gradual deepening of China-Africa economic and trade relations in recent years, the international community has tended to overlook improvements in Chinese policy toward Africa. Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) of Chinese enterprises in Africa is one area upon which doubt is frequently cast. Chinese enterprises have nevertheless achieved numerous advances in CSR in recent years. This shift fits into China’s official vision of sustainable development and offers companies an opportunity to enhance their responsible competitiveness. [Continue reading]

By ZHANG QiaowenCCS_Affiliate_Zhang_Qiaowen_2014
CCS Affiliate
Centre for Chinese Studies
Stellenbosch University

The AU-China infrastructure deal: a shifting terrain

CCS_Commentary_AU_China_RA_201509 February 2015

On January 24th, the African Union (AU) announced the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with China for a series of infrastructure projects which will stretch the African continent. Described by AU president Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma as “the most substantive project the AU has ever signed with a partner” and by Special Envoy of the Chinese government and Vice Foreign Minister of China, the “document of the century”, the announcement was nevertheless short on details. No price tag has been put on the deal and no timeline has been attached; the only detail announced was that committees focusing on four key sectors – rail, road, aviation and industrialisation – will be set up. Despite the vagueness of the announcement, the project nevertheless points toward a more general shifting model of engagement, echoed in other recently inaugurated projects. The trans-national nature points to the continued commitment to African regional and continental interconnectivity and the trade increases it will facilitate. The scale of the project also indicates the necessity of further diversification of companies involved as well as sources of financing. [Continue reading]

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


The Convergence of the Chinese and African Dream

Picture104 February 2015

Since 1991, China’s foreign ministers have, as a tradition, made their first yearly trip abroad to Africa. Current minister, Wang Yi, is no exception. From January 10 to January 17, Wang visited Kenya, Sudan, Cameroon, Equatorial-Guinea and the Democratic Republic of Congo. On different occasions during the trip, Wang illustrated the global significance of president Xi Jinping’s concept of the “Chinese Dream” and its guidelines on China’s relations with Africa, namely stressing the traits of sincerity, real results, affinity and good faith. Some observers denounce the so-called “Dream” diplomacy as superficial – a guise through which China intends to grab more resources from Africa. In fact, the Chinese Dream concept has deep historical roots and Africa can also draw similar development experiences and objectives from it. [Continue reading]

By HUANG YupeiIMG_9987
PhD Candidate
Centre for African Studies
Shanghai Normal University

SHEN ChenCCS_Visiting_Scholar_Shen_Chen_2014
Visiting Scholar

Centre for Chinese Studies
Stellenbosch University

Chinese environmental NGOs welcomed to the war against pollution

CCS_Commentary_ChineseENGOs_MB_201527 January 2015

On 1 January 2015, the Chinese government granted public interest groups more power to sue Chinese actors that continue to flout environmental protection laws. The revised version of China’s Environmental Protection law has come in the wake of China’s efforts to curb the major pollution problem. In 2014 Premier Li Keqiang announced that the country was “declaring war” against pollution. According to the country’s highest court, social groups working to fight polluters judicially would be given special status and have court fees reduced. They will also be allowed to sue firms or individuals across China, regardless of where the organisation is based. According to reports, the term the court used for the groups covers both non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and government-backed organisations. Many critics seem wary of the implementation of the new law, stating that it may just be another “talk shop” by the Chinese government, with not much enforcement of the new law. Many thus believe that NGOs will not actually be given any power. Although past issues and experiences definitely lean toward this position, the revised law may just be the needed change to help the Chinese administration bring major polluters to the book. [Continue reading]

By Meryl BurgessCCS_Research_Analyst_Meryl_12
Research Analyst
Centre for Chinese Studies
Stellenbosch University

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
Centre for Chinese Studies
Stellenbosch University