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.

The China factor in the 2014 Mozambican general elections campaign

CCS_Commentary_China_Factor_Mozam_Elections_Njal_201410 November 2014

As many African countries face shortages of funds to finance public infrastructure construction, the relationship with Beijing is increasingly important for many elected African politicians, especially those seeking to remain in power. The recent elections in Mozambique, won by Frelimo (with approximately 56 per cent of the vote) and Filipe Nyusi (57 per cent), are no exception, and highlight the growing role of China, however indirectly, in domestic politics. As in some other African countries, the campaign for the elections held in Mozambique on the 15 October 2014 brought to the fore the China factor. The three main political parties, Frelimo (Front for the Liberation of Mozambique, in power since independence in 1975), Renamo (National Resistance of Mozambique, the main opposition party) and MDM (Democratic Movement of Mozambique, the third biggest party), in their quest for wooing voters, presented different discourses on the role of China in the country. [Continue reading]

By Jorge NjalJorge_Njal
Institute of African Studies
Zhejiang Normal University

PRC China’s Silk Road Strategy: A foothold in the Suez, but looking to Israel

CCS_Commentary_Suez_and_China_ES_201403 November 2014

“China plans to develop a Silk Road economic belt that spans the Eurasian continent and a maritime Silk Road that links the Pacific with the Indian Ocean. We can see on a map that the two Silk Roads will cross in the Middle East region, which spells excellent opportunities and bright prospects for common development and common prosperity for China and the region’s countries”, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi (Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, January 14). The Silk Road narrative espoused by Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi evokes China’s strategy of developing linking transportation nodes between maritime port terminals and inland rail networks throughout Eurasia, including across the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region. With the overall purpose of carving out new export markets, this Silk Road strategy simultaneously seeks to develop large-scale transportation infrastructure construction projects for China’s state-owned enterprises (SOE) and create transportation routes to export products to foreign markets. Furthermore, as China’s national development has become increasingly dependent on maritime commerce to reach the global marketplace, Beijing has sought to minimize the risk of shipping disruptions by reducing its dependence on any single route through developing a variety of transportation corridors. [Continue reading]

By Emma ScottCCS_Visiting_Scholar_Emma_2013
Research Affiliate
Centre for Chinese Studies
Stellenbosch University


Lack of initiative: endangering the future of South Korea-Africa relations

CCS_Commentary_Korea_Africa_YK_201428 October 2014

The 2014 Korea Africa Economic Cooperation Ministerial Conference (KOAFEC) which was scheduled to take place in October 2014 has been postponed. Even though the Korea-Africa Industry Cooperation Forum was held and was attended by ministerial and vice ministerial-level officials from 11 African countries, the postponement, and the lack of clear explanation surrounding it, brought into question whether South Korea has vision and commitment with regard to Africa and whether South Korea is willing to be a genuine development partner of Africa. [Continue reading]

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

South Africa – Playing second fiddle to China?

CCS_Commentary_South_Africa_Second_Fidle_China_PT_201420 October 2014

Judging from recent events it seems as if South Africa is set to play second fiddle in its dealings with China. When negotiating with China, South Africa is either playing a guessing game or lacks an understanding of the partner with which it is dealing. In the recent past there has been an array of events that may be regarded as political blunders or a waste of South African political capital. Such inflation refers to the events that have led to the cancellation of the prestigious meeting of the Peace Nobel laureates in Cape Town, South Africa. The South African political freedoms which constitute its capital are too high a price to purchase what has come to be known as a Dalai Lama saga in South Africa. These recent unfortunate events give rise to the following question. Who advises the South African government on its foreign policy both politically and economically? It seems as if South Africa lacks an understanding of the cultural balance sheet when dealing with China or is it short of tools to make informed decisions that go beyond Chinese money? [Continue reading]

By Dr Paul TembeCCS_Image_Research_Fellow_Paul_2014_02
Research Fellow
Centre for Chinese Studies
Stellenbosch University

Is increased Chinese infrastructure linked to dwindling numbers of African wildlife?

CCS_Commentary_Chinese_infrastructure_wildlife_MB_201414 October 2014

Recently the global community celebrated World Rhino Day, an annual event focused on raising awareness on the increased threat of rhino poaching and the illegal trade in rhino horn. Poaching for rhino horn has increased dramatically. South Africa, home to some 80 per cent of the world’s rhino population, has already lost 769 rhinos to poaching this year. The rhino, however, is not the only wildlife species currently in crisis. Thousands of African elephants have also been poached for their ivory tusks. Recent reports stated that more elephants are being poached than those that are being born. TRAFFIC, an international wildlife trade monitoring network, reported that at least 20,000 African elephants were killed in 2013, averaging over 50 elephant deaths every single day, a historical record. It is no secret that the illegal wildlife trade’s biggest market is the Asian market. Rhino horn is mainly destined for top consumer countries: China, Vietnam and Thailand while ivory is largely headed for China and Thailand. What is telling is the fact that since China has increased its relations with Africa, the illegal wildlife trade has also increased. In countries such as Kenya and Tanzania, where Chinese companies have gone on to do major projects in infrastructure and building transport networks, their elephants have become hot targets for poaching. One must question whether the increase of Chinese activity in the infrastructure sector of these countries is ultimately connected to the growth in illegal wildlife trade, and as a result, are driving the trade? [Continue reading]

By Meryl BurgessCCS_Research_Analyst_Meryl_12
Research Analyst
Centre for Chinese Studies
Stellenbosch University