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

Regional economic integration in Africa: Lessons from Southeast Asia

24 August 2015

South Africa has recently relied heavily on the use of multi-lateral diplomacy in its foreign policy. South Africa has, for example, built up relationships with emerging countries in organisations such as BRICS and the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC). It has, however, not exerted much leadership in its relationships with neighbouring countries in the region. With regard to regional organisations in Southern Africa, the Southern African Development Community (SADC) has also committed itself to pursuing economic integration through various mechanisms such as the SADC Free Trade Area (FTA) to address the challenge of small and fragmented markets. As the major economic player of this region, one would assume that South Africa would exert more leadership in this process, however, that has not been the case. Moreover, investments from within the regional communities continue to lack on the African continent. This commentary looks at cases of multi-lateralism in Southeast Asia where regional economic integration has taken place in order to gain some insights for African economic communities. [Continue reading]

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

South African foreign policy and emerging powers

CCS_Commentary_South_Africa_RA_12 August 201517 August 2015

In recent years, South Africa has made a number of foreign policy decisions which signals a shift away from its traditional western allies. South Africa’s voting record at the United Nations (UN), and high-profile incidents such as the recent hosting of Omar al-Bashir, the Dalai Lama visa debacles have brought into discussion whether South African foreign policy is making a decisive turn, and if so, toward where? [Continue reading]

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

Is Huawei a new model for Chinese corporate social responsibility?

CCS_Commentary_Is_Huawei_OG_5 August 201505 August 2015

“Corporate Social Responsibility” (CSR) has become a popular business practice that both Western and Chinese corporations are using to safeguard international reputations and promote their companies. CSR regulatory frameworks are being put in place to monitor global business ethics, ensure the sustainability of transnational supply chains, and protect the interests of local stakeholders. However, these frameworks differ amongst Chinese companies, some using international benchmarking mechanisms like the Global Reporting Initiative, while others use regulatory systems monitored by the Chinese government. Huawei, a leading Chinese telecommunications company, has been praised internationally for its CSR initiatives. This commentary looks at the challenges facing Chinese CSR in Africa, and discusses whether Huawei could provide a new sustainable business model that Chinese companies operating in Africa could potentially imitate. [Continue reading]

By Olivia GullCCS_Assistant_Olivia_2015_01
Research Assistant
Centre for Chinese Studies
Stellenbosch University

If you want to consume more, you have to consume more responsibly

CCS_Commentary_Consuming_Responsibly_MB_27JULY201527 July 2015

The conservation of biodiversity and protected areas has increased dramatically in China over the last few years. Over 2000 nature reserves are now in existence and many other kinds of protected areas have been established around the country. In China, the protected area system includes nature reserves, scenic spots, historical sites and forest parks and reserves, many of them protected areas for recreation purposes. One of the widely-known man-made forest parks established in China was the Beijing Olympic forest park, an area developed before the Olympic Games in 2008. These are all favourable establishments for the country, especially considering the major environmental problems being faced today. Although India recently surpassed China as the country with the most polluted cities in the world, China is still one of the world’s most polluted countries, with severe air and water pollution, among many other environmental concerns. [Continue reading]

By Meryl BurgessCCS_Research_Analyst_Meryl_12
Research Analyst
Centre for Chinese Studies
Stellenbosch University

The eradication of casualization in Zambia: local agency and economic win-win in Sino-Zambian relations

CCS_Commentary_Casualization_Zambia_Beyongo _201520 July 2015

Casualization is a pervasive challenge in Zambia. Officials at Zambia’s Ministry of Labour and Social Security broadly have defined casualization as the hiring of labour for more than six months, with intermittent written employment contracts not exceeding six months. Research by the Human Rights Watch and others have shown that the practice is widespread and persists among Chinese mining companies in Zambia. Local community leaders and trade unionists argue that casualization undermines local workers’ rights to holiday pay, pension, stability, security of work and medical insurance, among others. Critics have argued that the Zambian government is passive towards the plight of local Zambian workers whose rights are incessantly abused by certain foreign investors in Zambia. However, the Zambian government’s commitment to ban casualization in the country signals its efforts to shape Zambia’s growing economic engagement with China and challenges the “passive bystander” state concept. It can also be seen as a policy to adjust the behaviour of Chinese investors in Zambia in line with the country’s broader national objective of addressing fundamental challenges in the country’s labour markets. [Continue reading]

Beyongo DynamicCCS_Image_Dynamic_2015
PhD candidate
Australian Centre on China in the World
Canberra, Australia