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.

Decrease in demand and in supply? The impact of new Chinese regulations on wildlife crime in South Africa

CCS_Commentary_Wild_life_Crime_DL_201418 June 2014

During December 2013 the Chinese news agency, Xinhua, reported that new regulations were published by Chinese authorities that ban shark fin and bird’s nest (amongst other commodities) from official reception dinners. The main reason for this was the start of an initiative to regulate the use of public funding and curb official extravagance. Since his coming into power in 2013, President Xi Jinping has launched a crackdown on official corruption and luxuries, dramatically changing the operational habits of high ranking levels of Chinese society. With specific reference to some traditional Chinese delicacies such as abalone and shark fin, such commodities are often harvested illegally in South Africa and also listed as endangered (as is the case with abalone). It remains to be seen if the new Chinese government regulations will lead to a decrease in the illicit wildlife trade in South Africa. [Continue reading]

By Dr Derica LambrechtsCCS_Associate_Derica_Lambrechts_2013_07
Associate
Centre for Chinese Studies
Stellenbosch University

China’s environmental protection: new law, same guardians

CCS_Commentary_Environmental_Law_HE_201411 June 2014

China suffers from severe pollution with air quality readings in Shanghai and Beijing reaching poisonous levels in the smog-filled winter months. Environmentally poor water management, lack of regulatory oversight and hazardous industrial processes have left environmentalists and proponents of sustainable development in China very frustrated. Yet, now, the Chinese government has adopted a set of changes, first presented in draft form in 2012, to their pre-existing environmental laws. The changes promise great potential for wide-ranging reform (and differ only slightly from the draft version). The question, however, remains: does this “new” law bring any hope for real environmental improvement? [Continue reading]

By Harrie EsterhuyseCCS_Research_Analyst_Harrie_2013_12
Research Analyst / Deputy Editor
Centre for Chinese Studies
Stellenbosch University

Spectres, from Beijing to Pretoria

CCS_Commentary_TS_RA_201403 June 2014

On the 4th of June 1989, I experienced my first introduction to modern China. As a South African pre-teen, my only knowledge of the country until that point was pure stereotypes: Kung Fu, dragons and egg-fried rice. On the evening of that fateful date, as I settled down with my parents to watch the evening news on television, something struck me as singularly odd. The topic of China made the headlines – something which, to my memory, had never occurred, either in the form of a headline or any other slot on the apartheid-era South African news. The commentator spoke of a massacre, of hundreds, even thousands of Chinese students and workers mowed down by their own government in and around Beijing’s Tiananmen Square. While this was the first time I, and probably many other people around the world, had ever heard the word “Tiananmen”, it was most certainly not the last. Since the Chinese state’s violent crushing of the several month-long demonstration for democratic reforms, that space, that name, has come to define China’s transition to a market success story and come to haunt China’s leaders and population as their prosperity has grown. [Continue reading]

By Dr Ross Anthony
Research Fellow
Centre for Chinese Studies
Stellenbosch University

Cementing China-Africa -USA ties… through Islamic extremism

CCS_Commentary_West_China_RA_201426 May 2014

Africa is frequently pitched by commentators as a new ideological playground where Western and Chinese actors vie for influence.  While there have been pleas for the two sides to work together more closely in terms of securing development, peace and security  on the continent, both sides have substantial misgivings about the other. In terms of African peace and security issues, China has been criticised for being too beholden to its own “non-interference” policy, insofar as it has shown reluctance in African conflict intervention – something western counterparts are not shy to engage in. This has been gradually changing, with, amongst other things,  China serving as a peace broker in the Sudan split, evacuating tens of thousands of its citizens during Libya’s 2011 conflict and contributing to a multi-national anti-piracy mission off the coast of Somalia. However, a new spectre is haunting Africa and it is one which threatens/promises to bring China and the west into an intimate embrace: that spectre is Islamic extremism. [Continue reading]

By Dr Ross Anthony
Research Fellow
Centre for Chinese Studies
Stellenbosch University

China’s promises to Africa

CCS_Commentary_Li Keqiang_YK_201419 May 2014

Li Keqiang, Premier of the People’s Republic of China, recently wrapped up his visit to four African countries, Ethiopia, Nigeria, Angola and Kenya. The trip followed President Xi Jinping’s state visits to Tanzania, South Africa and the Republic of Congo last year. This trip was associated with a number of co-operation documents and business deals, and Premier Li reaffirmed Beijing’s commitment to further co-operation between China and Africa. For African countries, the emergence of China and its active engagement in the continent has provided more access to funding for development. High-level visits in particular have played an important role in stimulating China-Africa relations through generous promises. These high-ranking visits make headlines and woo the respective publics. In the light of public hopes, it is crucial to assess China’s promises to Africa and to determine whether they are of mutual benefit. [Continue reading]

 By Yejoo KimCCS_Research_Analyst_Yejoo_10
Research Analyst
Centre for Chinese Studies
Stellenbosch University