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.

Latest Commentary

The African Link in China’s OBOR Initiative

 download15 May 2017

The “One Belt, One Road Initiative” (OBOR), also known as the “Belt and Road Initiative” (BRI), has become synonymous with China’s foreign policy in recent years. However, not much attention has been given to how Africa is positioned within OBOR’s potential sphere of influence and what it might mean for Sino-African relations. This dearth of attention is likely due to OBOR still being in its formative stages; it was only officially presented by the Chinese government in March 2015. Although OBOR is portrayed as an opportunity to strengthen Sino-African relations and provide economic development opportunities for the continent, evidence suggests that only African countries of strategic value will be prioritised and benefit the most from the initiative. [Continue reading]


   By Mandira Bagwandeen   
Independent Researcher  

Past Event

CCS PUBLIC SEMINAR l ‘Soft, Hard or Smart? North Korea’s Relation with Power’

  • Speaker     Dr Virginie Grzelczyk (Aston University, UK)
  • Date            19 May 2017
  • Time           13:00-14:00
  • Venues      JS Gericke Library Auditorium

Click  here for more information.

North Korea is notable for its political and economic isolation, yet the Korea Central News Agency’s daily editions are filled with articles outlining nations’ admiration for Pyongyang and its leader. What is the nature of these relationships? Do they matter in our understanding and appraisal of North Korea’s foreign policy? Could North Korea be trying to establish itself as an exemplary toward other developing countries? Could it be that Pyongyang is now actively promoting soft power as an integral part of, not only its survival, but its development strategy too? While scholarship on North Korea tends to focus on Pyongyang’s ‘high profile’ relations with China and Russia or with nations seeking weapons of mass destruction and thus engaging into ‘rogue collusion’, very little attention has indeed been paid to how the DPRK engages in peaceful diplomacy with the outside world. This presentation will examine the notion of hard, soft, sticky and smart power by focusing on current DPRK rhetoric and developing partnerships with both states and non-state actors. It suggests that the DPRK has started to pursue a strategy of diplomatic diversification, suggesting a more sophisticated understanding of power which has been overlooked in much work on the country.

Past Event

Referencing China and East Asia in Southern African Visual Culture_ 29-30 April

You are invited to a two-day conference on cultural responses to the developing relationship between the African continent and the People’s Republic of China.

PRESENTED BY: Michael MacGarry, Juliette Leeb-du Toit, Jochen Becker and Ross Anthony. [Click here for information]


CCS in the Media

Is China the new lodestar for Africa’s students?

Picture111 April 2017

Within the global context, 20th century higher education has been dominated by institutions of the Global North. With the fall of the Berlin Wall and the subsequent spread of market economies to the Global South, a growing band of elites hankered to attend fabled institutions such as Oxford, Harvard, the Sorbonne or at least to secure themselves a tertiary education in the United States, the United Kingdom, France and the like. As anyone who has worked in higher education, either in the Euro-American sphere or beyond, knows, the aforementioned countries function as brands, in and of themselves. For example, when I worked as a lecturer in Taiwan, hardly anyone in the faculty had a PhD from Taiwan; they mostly attended US institutions, with the remainder from the United Kingdom and France. If you had a PhD from Taiwan, it seemed as if you didn’t stand much of a chance.

While the African context, broadly speaking, is not as extreme a case as Taiwan, these centres have long functioned as the gravity points of African scholarly pilgrimage – for the lucky few, in practice; for most, in the imagination. But this is changing. [Continue reading]