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

Re-negotiating international investment treaties: prospects for investment relations between South Africa and China

14 June 201Mandela WB6

The rise of many emerging states has the potential to shape the international legal system. In both Asia and Africa, the actions of various countries have given rise to the notion of emerging powers undermining the normative implications of international law and, thus, compromising the international legal regime. China and South Africa are two cases in point: the former’s territorial disputes in the South China Sea have seen China reluctant with regard to dispute resolution, while South Africa’s proposed withdrawal of African states from the International Criminal Court and its termination of first generation bilateral investment treaties (BITs) highlight a deviance from the normative order. Both China and South Africa appear generally as firm believers of sovereignty in a traditional sense. Yet, with regard to economic law, China seems to adopt a more liberal approach than South Africa. In the following article, this notion is tested in light of changing approaches to state sovereignty within international economic law. [Continue reading]


By Anna Hankings-EvansCCS visiting scholar_Anna Hanking Evans
Visiting Scholar

Centre for Chinese Studies
Stellenbosch University



The Cultural Revolutions: lessons for South Africa

Picture125 May 2016

In the past year, students across South Africa have risen up, tearing down statues and artworks and burning campus buildings; they have demanded that university rectors’ step down and have forced the ruling government to submit to (some of) their demands. An insistence in overhauling a residual colonial apparatus, viewed as entirely inappropriate for the challenges of 21st Century Africa (inappropriate symbols, inappropriate world views, inappropriate structures), has spread from Cape Town all the way to Oxford. In tandem with this, the ascent of a new political party, the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), who don red Mao suits, some, referring to their leader Julius Malema as ‘Maolema’ and, echoing Mao’s famous words, have recently threatened to seize political power through ‘the barrel of a gun’. This month saw the 50th anniversary of the beginning of China’s Great Proletariat Cultural Revolution, launched in 1966 and ending a decade later, upon Mao Zedong’s death in 1976. Mao called for the youth and in particular, university students to rise up against this new ‘emperor’ class. There has been a lot of talk in recent years about how Africa can learn lessons for China: Is not now, more than ever, the perfect time for South Africa to turn to late 20th Century China, to serve as input as it maps out the political project of the 21st Century. [Continue reading]

By Ross AnthonyCCS_Research_Fellow_Ross_Anthony_2014
Interim Director
Centre for Chinese Studies
Stellenbosch University

Can the angry young people change the face of politics in Asia? – the case of Korea

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In recent years, younger generations have played a key role in calls for political change. This is evident in a wide range of countries, including the Middle Eastern Arab Spring of 2011 and the Hong Kong and South African student protests of 2015. More recently, a wave of youth disaffection has hit South Korea. The country’s recent general election for a new National Assembly served a blow to the ruling Saenuri Party, who expected to win. Despite divisions amongst the opposition parties, the ruling party failed to get a majority. The result signals deep dissatisfaction of the young with Korea’s current economic recession. In a country where the youth are usually indifferent to politics, this eruption of anger suggests that South Korean politics will be business as usual. [Continue reading]

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


Economic implication of China’s military base in Djibouti

Xi Djibouti19 April 2016

On 20 January 2016, President Ismail Guelleh of Djibouti announced the establishment of a Chinese military outpost in the African enclave. Scheduled to be completed in 2017, the base will act as a command and logistics hub to enable Beijing extend its maritime reach and provides an airfield which will increase its ability to gather intelligence reports in the Middle East, Northern and Eastern African regions. While the establishment of the base has attracted much international media attention, the base is a raft of new Chinese initiatives which offers the promise of economic growth in this small African country. [Continue reading]

By Dr Emmanuel Igbinoba
Research Fellow

Centre for Chinese Studies
Stellenbosch University


Sino-Arab, Sino Egyptian relation’s: 60 years on!

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04 April 2016

2016 marks the 60th year of Sino-Arab relations and the 60th anniversary of the establishment of Sino-Egyptian bi-lateral relations where Egypt was the first Arab and first African country to establish diplomatic relations with China. To begin the year, China issued its first Arab Policy Paper which uses multilateralism by promoting different mechanisms and fora through which Arab states can co-operate with China. This commentary shows that China–Arab relations are beginning a process of institutionalisation built on energy, infrastructure, and trade deals as well as on agreements in the field of culture. Following that, Chinese President Xi Jinping published an article on Sino-Arab and Sino-Egyptian relations in the Egyptian newspaper, Al Ahram, ahead of a state visit to the country – home to the Headquarters of the Arab League. This commentary will focus on the contents of the two aforementioned publications, placing Sino-Egyptian relations within the context of China’s Arab co-operation, and the 2016 China-Egypt cultural year within the context of China’s cultural diplomacy. [Continue reading]

Emma ScottCCS_Visiting_Scholar_Emma_2013
CCS Affiliates

Centre for Chinese Studies
Stellenbosch University