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

History and diplomacy in East Asia: settling the comfort women issue

Rob picture22 February 2016

History is a contentious subject in East Asia. Diplomacy between Japan, the Koreas and China is consistently damaged by disagreements over historical accuracy and representation. All of these arise from Japan’s colonial legacy. However, in the final weeks of 2015, Japan and South Korea agreed to settle the so-called “comfort women” issue. Japanese President Abe Shinzo expressed his “profound grief” and “sincere condolences” and the Japanese government will grant reparations to the surviving comfort women in South Korea. However, settling the issue is going to be more difficult than both Seoul and Tokyo would like. [Continue Reading]


By Robert Attwell
Research Affiliate
Centre for Chinese Studies
Stellenbosch University

China in Namibia: an appraisal of the construction industry

8 February 2016   

Over the last decade, China has become one of Africa’s most important partners for trade and economic co-operation. Engagement between China and Namibia started about three decades ago. Recently, significant developments have taken place in the areas of mining and infrastructure, including the establishment of the Husab Uranium Mine. The N$ 20 billion* mine, of which China’s Taurus Minerals Limited (owned by China General Nuclear Power Company) holds a majority 90 per cent stake (the state-owned Epangelo Mining Company has 10 per cent), is the biggest investment in Namibia since independence (1990). While Namibia’s vast uranium deposit at Husab will help China’s nuclear industry, the immediate return value is 6,000 temporary jobs and 2,000 permanent jobs. Furthermore, of the 34 registered Chinese companies operating in Namibia, 3,200 job opportunities have been created for Namibians. Nevertheless, Chinese state-owned and private construction companies have been making strategic inroads in the local construction sector. These trends have sparked an outcry from the local business community as well as employees of such Chinese firms who complain about unfair competition and poor working conditions, respectively. [Continue Reading]

By Rui Tyitende
Research Affiliate
Centre for Chinese Studies
Stellenbosch University


Beyond China Towns: New Chinese Spaces in Africa


25 January 2016   

China Towns have for long been cordoned areas dedicated to the preservation of Chinese culture and routine. They were mostly commercially-oriented, lined with restaurants and shops serving authentic Chinese products and services in a far way country. They often also doubled as residential areas for the earlier generations of the Chinese diaspora. But as increasing numbers of Chinese people move overseas—as students, sojourners, contractual workers, businessmen or immigrants—Chinese spaces are becoming increasingly mainstream with China Towns relegated to the category of ‘quaint’ experiences. Special economic zones, smart cities, industrial clusters, tourist parks, and residential communities—these are the latest mainstream forms in which private Chinese companies now populate investment in countries across Africa, as well as in other parts of the globe. Contrary to China Towns, these spatial formations, though still Chinese creations, do not exude any Chinese cultural experiences. These are more spaces of convenience which have been built with a purpose and in line with a strategy. [Continue Reading]

By Dr Honita CowaloosurHonita Cowaloosur
Visiting Scholar
Centre for Chinese Studies
Stellenbosch University


What does the new comprehensive strategic co-operation mean for China-Africa relations?

Picture107 December 2015

South Africa has successfully taken up the challenge of hosting the 2015 summit-level China Africa Cooperation Forum. The biggest highlight of the summit was the much-awaited announcement by President Xi Jinping of Beijing’s continuous commitment to supporting Africa financially, with US$ 60 billion in development assistance. Although the timeline for when this amount will be spent by, or details about its distribution across the continent, are yet to be specified, the total amount exceeded many analysts’ expectations and outdid the US-Africa summit announcement of US$ 33 billion in financial support.  Another major highlight of the Summit was President Xi Jinping’s lifting China-Africa relations up to the level of  a Comprehensive Strategic and Cooperative China-Africa Partnership. President Xi Jinping proposed the following five pillars which will chart the new level of co-operation between China and Africa: political equality and mutual trust, promoting win-win economic co-operation, mutually enriching cultural exchanges, mutual assistance in security, and solidarity and co-ordination in international affairs. From the perspective of a discourse analysis, these pillars are necessary guidelines to reassure African partners (and beyond) that Beijing’s intentions are not hegemonic. [Continue reading]

By Lina BenabdallahPicture2
PhD Candidate
Department of Political Science
& Center for African studies
University of Florida

FOCAC VI and the future of infrastructure in Africa

CCS_Commentary_FOCAC_INFR_NT_23NOV201530 November 2015

In preparation for the Forum of China Africa Co-operation (FOCAC) VI summit, to be held on 4 and 5 December 2015 in South Africa, numerous institutes have organised conferences and seminars in which academics, policy-makers, government representatives and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) were and still are discussing and analysing what FOCAC VI needs to priorities and how to go about it. Seeing as infrastructure and industrialisation were given priority in the Sino-African relationship, it comes as no surprise that these preparatory workshops and conferences are addressing those issues and outlining the crucial aspects thereof. This commentary will focus on two such events: the One belt One Road and a Prosperous Africa Conference held in Durban between 19 and 20 November and the China-Africa Co-operation on Three Networks of Africa’s Infrastructure and Industrialisation Seminar held in Nairobi, Kenya in late October, discussing the main outcomes of the conferences and what the future holds for China-Africa co-operation in the infrastructure sector as envisaged by the delegates from both China and Africa. [Continue reading]

By Nuša TukićCCS_Research_Analyst_Nusa_Tukic_2013_6
Research Associate
Centre for Chinese Studies
Stellenbosch University