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. 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

Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference…  the beginning of the end?

Picture111 March 2015

In the past week, China held two of its most symbolically important political events of the year – the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) and the National People’s Congress (NPC). The government has used the events to highlight a number of social reforms aimed at mitigating China’s slowing economy. While the Party and its allies exert a confidence in these measures, commentators have argued they are merely papering up the cracks – a process exemplified by the stage-managed nature of these conferences. But pundits have been wrong in the past. [Continue reading]

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

China-Africa rhetoric: lessons from the World Economic Forum

Commentary_Liam_China-Africa_rhetoric_201502 March 2015

The 2015 World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, held between the 21st and 24th January, was an arena in which Chinese political elites and leaders from the African continent could take respite from the intensity of the China-Africa relationship. WEF is an arena in which the two sides can “go-it-alone” and sell themselves and their countries to the rest of the world. During the four day event it became clear that the wider (somewhat reductive) rhetoric which tends to frame the China-Africa relationship (nations in-development, dependent, different, and damaged) played a disruptive hand for those looking to promote brand “Africa”. The rhetoric which stems from African and Chinese political classes regularly frames engagements on the (anti-)colonial past. Nevertheless, such rhetoric runs the risk of sustaining recognition of Africa as the damaged-other. Investors at Davos met African leaders under the haze of a continent portrayed as highly dependent, having a past unresolved and a future remaining uncertain. Such rhetoric has the power to remove African agency within multi-lateral environments. A better understanding of the power-politics at play within China-Africa rhetoric will enable investors, politicians and commentators to look beyond projections which otherwise hide a continent very much open for business. [Continue reading]

By Liam O’BrienCCS_Visiting_Scholar_Liam_Obrien_2015
Visiting Scholar
Centre for Chinese Studies
Stellenbosch University

 

Economic pragmatism in East Asia: a perspective from Taiwan

CCS_Commentary_Economic_Pragmatism_East_Asia_YK_201523 February 2015

Since the Communists defeated the Kuomintang (KMT or Nationalist Party) in 1949 and the KMT moved to the island of Taiwan, the two Chinas – the People’s Republic of China (PRC) and the Republic of China (Taiwan) – have competed for international legitimacy and recognition as the “government of China”. Both parties have had a long-standing diplomatic tug-of-war with each other for decades. However, it seems that Taiwan and China have become economically dependent; Taiwan in particular has opted for pragmatic co-operation with China. One of the most prominent examples of this is the Cross-Straits Economic Co-operation Framework Agreement (ECFA) signed in 2010 with the PRC, which aims to reduce tariffs and commercial barriers between the two sides. The ECFA has become a catalyst of Taiwan’s endeavour to become an economic regional hub. Against this background, this commentary provides a glimpse of the economic relations of Taiwan with its counterparts in East Asia. [Continue reading]

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

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