Research Reports present the results of research undertaken by the Centre for Chinese Studies either as a result of contract agreements or as collaboration with partner institutions.

Report: Chinese Investors – Saving the Zambian Textile and Clothing Industry?

By Ina Eirin Eliassen

October 2012

In the context of reduced aid from traditional donors and the changing modalities of aid, FDI from non-traditional development partners as China has become an important driver for development agenda’s in African countries. As FDI does not automatically lead to economic growth and poverty reduction, and since there is no single “Chinese model” for economic cooperation, it is up to African leaders to ensure institutions and policies to reap the benefit of FDI. This paper sets out to further our understanding of how Chinese investments in the Zambian textile and clothing industry impacts economic development, as a sector important for employment creation and ultimately poverty alleviation. Overall, this paper demonstrates the challenges to industrialise in the context of a liberal market and the globalised international economy. Despite Chinese engagements in manufacturing, Zambia remains an exporter of unprocessed natural resources and loses out in terms of economic development from TC manufacturing activities.

[Download CCS Research Report “Chinese Investments: Saving the Zambian Textile and Clothing Industry?” here]

Report: African students in China: An exploration of increasing numbers and their motivations in Beijing

By Hannane Ferdjani

September 2012

This report focuses on the growing phenomenon of African students migrating to China for their studies, from a holistic and quantitative point of view, specifically, their perceptions and experiences in the system of Higher Education cooperation and exchange between African and China. The trend of educational migration has accelerated and been institutionalized since the turn of the millennium, which emphasizes the need for up-to-date research. This report is the result of Phandulwazi nge China scholar Hannane Ferdjani’s work at the CCS between May and July 2012. She conducted fieldwork in Beijing in June this year.

This research report is the first fruit of the CCS scholarship programme Phandulwazi nge China (“Knowledge about China” in isiXhosa). The scholarships offer opportunities for African researchers to spend research time at the Centre in order to advance mutual learning and a better exchange on interpretations of political, economic or environmental impact of Chinese engagement in Africa. This programme is kindly supported by Open Society Foundation.

[Download CCS Report: “African students in China: An exploration of increasing numbers and their motivations in Beijing” here]

Report: Transparency of Chinese Aid: An analysis of the published information on Chinese external financial flows

Sven Grimm with Rachel Rank, Matthew McDonald and Elizabeth Schickerling

August 2011

The Chinese government publishes less data about its overseas aid spending than western donors, but more than is commonly thought, according to a new report from the campaign group, Publish What You Fund and the Centre for Chinese Studies at Stellenbosch university.

Transparency of Chinese Aid, launched today with a debate at Chatham House in London, highlights the shortcomings of Chinese aid information disclosure. These include the tendency to report aggregate levels rather than country-specific data, the absence of a central monitoring agency, and the lack of impact assessments.

However, the authors conclude that, contrary to general perception, provision of information is evolving fast in China and there is a willingness among the authorities to work with international partners on aid transparency, in particular looking at the technical details involved.

“Aid transparency is essential to enhance overall aid effectiveness and this year is key with the High Level Forum in Korea providing an opportunity to review donors’ progress,” said Karin Christiansen, Director of Publish What You Fund. “As emerging donors like China start to play a more central role in aid provision, it’s important to engage them in a dialogue about transparency and encourage them to increase the information available.”

The report’s purpose is not to provide estimates of the overall aid volumes given by China (which are not systematically reported) but it reproduces figures from a recent Chinese government white paper, China’s Foreign Aid, showing that 45% of all Chinese aid in 2009 went to Africa, 32% to Asia, and 13% to Latin America and the Caribbean. Of this, two fifths was spent on projects conceptualised, planned, financed and delivered by Chinese actors.

The Chinese definition of foreign assistance and aid are different from that used by Western countries, which makes comparison difficult.  The Chinese count military spending as aid, but unlike traditional donors, do not include debt relief or the cost of educating foreign students.

According to the recent Chinese government white paper, 11% of their aid goes to upper-middle income or high-income countries and around a third is given to countries with the same or higher income per capita than China.  One of the reasons why more country-specific aid information is not published could be to avoid the tricky questions about why China is giving aid to middle-income countries when it still has high levels of domestic poverty.

Others possible reasons for the non-publication of data include defensiveness towards the still-more substantial Western aid donors; irritation with the international community demanding adherence to their standards; desire to avoid competition between recipient countries; and lack of capacity to deal with the statistics.  An additional challenge is the number of different ministries and state agencies involved in disbursement of aid.

“Finding information on Chinese aid is like putting together a jigsaw puzzle. This is of course the case with other donors but the missing pieces are larger and less comparable in China,” said Sven Grimm, Director of the Centre for Chinese Studies at Stellenbosch University, and the paper’s main author. “What this report shows is a mixed picture: some progress but still a long way to go before Chinese aid could be considered truly transparent.”

The report makes a number of recommendations for how China could make progress on aid transparency:

  • Initial steps: Assess, test and develop a publication schedule for aid information that Chinese agencies already hold in line with the emerging best practice standard set out in the International Aid Transparency Initiative.
  • More substantial steps: Publish existing information already held by these agencies, in line with best practice, and facilitate the dissemination and use of this information, particularly by recipient country governments in the first instance.
  • More ambitious steps: Build systems to collect data that is not currently held and invest in the accessibility and use of that information in China itself.

The report also notes the responsibility of aid recipients to articulate the demand for increased donor transparency, and provide compatible information about their own budgets.

Attempts by the international community to engage Chinese actors are likely to be best framed in terms of the existing conversations about “South-South Cooperation”, according to the paper’s authors, rather than via the concept of aid-transparency.

[Download: Transparency of Chinese Aid: An analysis of the published information on Chinese external financial flows]


  • Publish What You Fund is the global campaign for aid transparency, advocating for a significant increase in the availability and accessibility of comprehensive, timely and comparable aid information, with the World Bank, U.S., and EU as our main targets –
  • The launch of the paper ‘The Transparency of Chinese Aid’ will take place at Chatham House on 14 September at 12:00 – 13.30pm (GMT). Please contact Claudia Elliot at or on 0207 9206401 if you wish to attend or for an advance copy of the report.
  • The Centre for Chinese Studies at Stellenbosch University, South Africa, is the leading African research institution for innovative & policy relevant analysis of the relations between China and Africa.


CCS Policy Briefing – November 2011

The CCS Policy Briefing ‘中国对外援助的透明度分析—关于中国援助的公开信息’ is available in a Chinese translation [here].

The CCS Policy Briefing ‘Transparency of Chinese Aid – The published information on Chinese external financial flows’ draws from the recently published CCS Report, Transparency of Chinese Aid: An analysis of the published information on Chinese external financial flows. The Policy Briefing can be downloaded [here].



Report: Assessing China’s Role in Foreign Direct Investment in Southern Africa – March 2011

Assessing China’s Role in Foreign Direct Investment in Southern Africa – March 2011

By: Sanne van der Lugt and Victoria Hamblin with Meryl Burgess and Elizabeth Schickerling

This CCS report, funded by Oxfam Hong Kong, aims to provide a better understanding of the specificities of Chinese FDI and its role in the economic development in Southern Africa. It examines Chinese FDI in the broader context of FDI inflows to Africa and compares the framework conditions for Chinese FDI to those of FDI from three other main investing countries, namely: the United States, the United Kingdom and South Africa. The focus of the report is on Zambia , also taking into account the broader SADC region.

This study is based upon analysis of policy documents and interviews with a small number of key Chinese and African government officials, CSO representatives as well as private sector representatives. Fieldwork was conducted in Gauteng, Botswana and Zambia in 2010. The report concludes with a set of recommendations for policy makers from both FDI host and home countries and for (international) NGOs concerned with supporting social and economic development in the SADC region. The CCS Report “Assessing China’s Role in Foreign Direct Investment in Southern Africa” can be downloaded here.

For more information on the Report, please contact the CCS by email or telephone +27 (0) 21 808 2840.


CCS Policy Briefing – April 2011

The premier CCS Policy Briefing ‘The Management of Chinese Foreign Direct Investment’ draws from the recently published CCS Report, Assessing China’s   Role in Foreign Direct Investment in Southern Africa.  The Policy Briefing can be downloaded [here].



Evaluating China’s FOCAC commitments to Africa and mapping the way ahead

The Centre for Chinese Studies at Stellenbosch University embarked on a research undertaking in 2009 on behalf of the Rockefeller Foundation in New York, USA. The report, now released, aims to investigate emerging trends, opportunities and challenges in China’s engagement with five African countries and two African regional organisations through FOCAC

Titled “Evaluating China’s FOCAC commitments to Africa and mapping the way ahead”, the aim of the research was to provide African stakeholders with accurate information and commentary on the implementation of the commitments made at the 2006 Beijing FOCAC summit in order to improve their preparedness ahead of FOCAC 2009. Based on the field research observations, country specific recommendations are provided seeking to improve the developmental benefits of each country’s relations with China. Field work for the study was carried out from January to August 2009.

Overall, the implementation of the Beijing Action Plan in the five countries is fairly advanced. In the concluding analysis, six issues are identified as pivotal to whether or not Sino-African relations post the 2009 FOCAC meeting will be beneficial for Africa’s peoples. The most important issue pertains to employment equity in the African countries, notably the recruitment of local workers, labour rights and skills development. It is believed that these six issues should be taken into account by all African leaders in order to pave the way for a new Sino-African partnership, beneficial to all Africans.

The CCS Report “Evaluating China’s FOCAC commitments to Africa and mapping the way ahead” can be downloaded in English [here], French [here], Mandarin [here] and Portuguese [here].

For more information on the Report, please contact the CCS by email or telephone (+27 21) 808 2840.