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.

Hypocrisy and hysteria in Western criticism of China’s engagement in Africa

CCS_Commentary_Western_Criticism_SC_201403 March 2014

Questions around China’s involvement in Africa arise in almost all spheres of debates or discussions in Europe and the USA, be it in the media, academia or other areas. There is hardly any positive coverage of the nature of China-Africa relations across different sectors of engagement: economic co-operation (trade and investment), development co-operation (development assistance), education or labour. Challenges do exist in any of the continent’s engagements with the world. Yet,  before China’s growing presence in Africa, did developed countries involved in Africa try to comprehensively assess the results of their engagement on the African continent? Europe or United States’ engagement was not perfect either. In fact, it probably has more negative than positive aspects. [Continue reading]

By Dr Daouda Cissé
Research Fellow
Centre for Chinese Studies
Stellenbosch University

Illegal wildlife trade, China and the sale of endangered shark products

CCS_Commentary_Illegal_Wildlife_MB_201425 February 2014

Last week global leaders were called together to help eradicate illegal wildlife trade and better protect the world’s most iconic species from the threat of extinction: the United Kingdom (UK) government hosted an international conference on illegal wildlife trade. The conference came in the wake of increasing poaching of rare or endangered species for high-value products such as rhino horn, ivory and tiger bones. In South Africa, a record of more than a thousand rhinos were poached in 2013, an increase of more than 50 per cent since 2012. The aim of the conference was to agree to a high level political commitment to take urgent action to tackle illegal wildlife trade. Illegal wildlife trade has become a serious criminal industry, with products worth millions of dollars. The London conference had delegations from 46 countries in attendance, including some African countries who have felt the brunt of increased poaching, as well as China and Vietnam – top consumer countries of illegal wildlife products. [Continue reading]

By Meryl BurgessCCS_Research_Analyst_Meryl_12
Research Analyst
Centre for Chinese Studies
Stellenbosch University

China–Africa technology transfer: a matter of technology readiness

CCS_Commentary_China_Africa_Tech_2014_YK17 February 2014

When looking at China’s 12th Five-Year Plan (2011–2015), we observe that the country has singled out several industries, such as new energy resources and biotechnology, and has expressed its aspiration to support related businesses in order to compete on a global scale. It seems that China’s effort has turned out positively in some areas. These efforts were based on unprecedented growth rates for the last three decades, which might now be a matter of the past. Yet, meanwhile China has transformed itself from a country that copies Western and other Asian competitors to one that has the most number of patent filings worldwide. Based on this experience, China has explicitly emphasised scientific and technological cooperation with African countries through the Forum on China–Africa Cooperation (FOCAC). In this context, a question has arisen concerning whether the African countries are ready to take advantage of these opportunities and whether this co-operation can bring about tangible outcomes rather than rhetorical propaganda. [Continue reading]

By Yejoo KimCCS_Research_Analyst_Yejoo_10
Research Analyst
Centre for Chinese Studies
Stellenbosch University

Delocalisation: opportunities for developing countries?

CCS_Commentary_Delocalisation_DC_201410 February 2014

Access to cheaper labour, growing markets and resources have driven companies to constantly move part of their businesses or relocate their activities to developing countries which often offer possibilities in those areas.  For instance, in order to enjoy cheaper manpower and enable developing countries to improve their manufacturing industries, Western European companies have relocated to Eastern European countries which in the past were ideal for the relocation of businesses. After Eastern European countries enjoyed technology transfer, benefitted from job creation and exports to other regions of the world through the relocation of companies, demands for better conditions from workers contributed to an increase of production and labour costs. This mechanism of seeking investment opportunities and a subsequent upgrading of production was a driver in the development of a number of Asian countries: not least so Japan, South Korea and China. [Continue reading]

By Dr Daouda Cissé
Research Fellow
Centre for Chinese Studies
Stellenbosch University

Chinese engagement in the Zimbabwean mining sector

CCS_Commentary_Chinese_Engagement_Zambabwe_NT_TT_201403 February 2014

Zimbabwe, as many African countries, is endowed with natural resources, of which gold and diamonds are the most abundant. Gold panning has historically been the main income opportunity for many Zimbabweans. However, due to the economic downturn of the last decade (2003-2013), Zimbabwe has seen an increase in illegal gold panning as an alternative means of employment. Gold panning is a labour intensive industry at best, but when it is not formalised and regulated, the consequences for both mine workers and the surrounding environment can be rather devastating. In addition to health and safety hazards and police actions against them, Zimbabweans involved in gold mining, whether legal or illegal have also been faced with competition from foreign companies investing in Zimbabwe’s gold mining sector, most notably Chinese companies. [Continue reading]

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