The Centre for Chinese Studies

The Centre for Chinese Studies (CCS), at Stellenbosch University, serves as the most prominent and high quality point of reference for the study of China and East Asia on the African continent.

New FOCAC Policy Brief Series

2018 FOCAC VII – Special focus on environmental concerns

The seventh Ministerial Forum on China Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) summit is being held in Beijing from 3-4 September 2018. Since the first conference held in 2000 FOCAC has become an important and effective platform for dialogue between China and African countries. Additionally, the implementation of FOCAC action plans has become a significant means for examining and further analysing the relations between the two sides. An array of action plans will be worked out in terms of commerce, security, culture and society during the 2018 summit. While these themes are important to reflect upon, this policy brief series deliberately examines sustainability issues in FOCAC and China’s environmental footprint in Africa.

The CCS has created a series of policy briefs providing strategic information for policy-makers and stakeholders. The policy briefs cover topical areas such as environmental protection, policy-making, the role of civil society and environmental implications of China’s Belt and Road Initiative. This collaborative work contributes toward coherent, credible policy options for African decision-makers, in the interests of a sustainable relationship between China and Africa.

Click on the links below for access to all three policy briefs.

[Download CCS Policy Brief No. 9, 2018]

[Download CCS Policy Brief No. 10, 2018]

[Download CCS Policy Brief No. 11, 2018]


New CCS policy briefs on Africa’s sustainable development: industrialisation and infrastructure

Tanzanian infrastructure development and the role of China: the case of Bagamoyo Port

Policy Brief no. 4 – October 2018

Since the mid-2000s, the strong presence of Chinese actors in the construction sector in Africa shifted the continent’s development agenda to increasingly focus on infrastructure. The reluctance of traditional aid donors to extend further funding to African countries, has left a void in the construction sector, which has contributed to Chinese actor’s increasing commitment to unlock potential and create new opportunities. Chin+a’s engagement has invigorated interest in the infrastructure sector and positioned it on a new competitive trajectory on the continent. China’s engagement in Africa’s infrastructure development has gained momentum along with its Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). This game changing initiative has the potential to drive Africa’s socio-economic development and structural transformation. However, this policy brief argues, through an examination of China’s role in Tanzania’s Bagamoyo port development, that the success of the developments depend on the proper management of risks, uncertainties, and the complexity of the policy making process by the host governments, rather than Chinese contractors or finance institutions. [Continue reading]


Special Economic Zones in South Africa: Lessons for further development

Policy Brief no. 5 – October 2018

In 2018 South Africa reaffirmed its support for Special Economic Zones (SEZs) by approving the preferential tax treatment status of SEZs. South Africa has run a number of industrial development programmes such as Industrial Development Zones (IDZ) since 2000, however, the ongoing efforts have not yet been fully actualised. With new supportive fiscal incentives for businesses in SEZs, the South African government aims to revive industrialisation and to promote inclusive development. Dube in KwaZulu-Natal and Coega in the Eastern Cape have a relatively long history of operation and investors are already active in these zones. Despite excitement around new government support, challenges experienced in the zones have been identified through interviews with stakeholders. By examining the most common challenges, further policy and systematic development will become possible. In this way lessons can be learned and used in the newly launched zones such as the Atlantis SEZ in the Western Cape and other zones in South Africa and beyond. [Continue reading]

CCS in the Media

22 September 2018

Unlike in the Euro-American sphere, which has a long history of robust independent scholarship and teaching on China, within Africa no such foundation exists. [Continue Reading]

17 September 2018

It is now of crucial importance that South Africans learn as much as they can about China, given our historical lack of knowledge of the region and the country’s undeniably strategic economic importance. [Continue Reading]

13 September 2018

Ross Anthony, the director of Stellenbosch University’s Centre for Chinese Studies, says the debt-trap narrative fits into a Euro-American discourse, and this grouping is very anxious about China’s ramped-up “going out” strategy — its policy of encouraging Chinese firms to invest globally. But some Chinese-funded projects are more risky than those in other countries, he says, Djibouti being a good example. [Continue reading] 


14 August 2018

In the wave of China’s billion-dollar-investments in Africa many small traders have come to the continent to set up shop. Low-income households are hungry for cheap goods made in China. What looks like a win-win has its challenges. [Watch video] 



 29 July 2018

‘Xi Jinping’s trip to Africa cements continent’s growing ties to China, and Beijing’s loans’: China is doubling its commitments to Africa as it builds support from the developing world amid an escalating trade war with the US. The moves came during Chinese President Xi Jinping’s recent tour of four African nations, capped last week by the BRICS meeting of emerging economies – Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa, which hosted the summit. But some observers say that as Beijing is ambitiously pushing ahead Xi’s flagship investment and infrastructure project, the “Belt and Road Initiative”, China still faces the challenge of debt problems on the world’s second largest continent. [Continue reading] 


26 July 2018

‘Chinese firms to benefit from localizing light industry in South Africa’: The popularity of Chinese commodities in South Africa, combined with Chinese enterprises’ expertise in light manufacturing and fast-growing bilateral ties, provide broad scope for industrial cooperation, said experts and local business people. “A wide variety of products from China, including textiles, small commodities, household appliances and building materials, are popular here,” Xu Changbin, chairperson of a chain mall called African Trade, a platform for Chinese entrepreneurs in South Africa, told the Global Times. With the increasing popularity of Chinese products in South Africa, Xu has opened three malls, two in Johannesburg and one in Durban. [Continue reading] 


19 July 2018

‘Two decades of mutual support’: This year marks the 20th anniversary of diplomatic ties between SA and China, during which time the two countries have established a number of comprehensive strategic partnerships and platforms for co-operation. These include the Forum on China-africa Co-operation (Focac), the emerging market economic hub consisting of Brazil, Russia, India and China (Brics), the Belt & Road Initiative and South-south co-operation as well as numerous trade and bilateral agreements. As a result China has become SA’S largest trading partner and a valuable source of both foreign investment and tourists. Continue reading… [Part 1] [Part 2] 


15 July 2018

‘Young people see China-Africa relations more comprehensively’: On July 12th, a special dialogue was held with the Chinese Consulate General in Cape Town, South Africa. The party attending the dialogue included more than 10 university students from the “China-Africa Relations” summer school organized by the Centre for Chinese Studies of Stellenbosch University in South Africa. After listening to the introduction on the relationship between China and Africa by China’s Consul General in Cape Town, Kang Yong, Anathi Madubella, an International Relations student, asked several questions about China’s relationship with Africa [Continue reading]