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

What rapprochement between the Koreas might mean for Africa

4 June 2018

On April 27 2018, Kim Jung-un became the first head of North Korea to cross the border into South Korea after the end of the Korean War (1950-53). After the historic summit between the two leaders of the Koreas in April, many expected this event would provide the moment for reducing tensions and making significant progress on political stability in the region. Gradual improvement in regional stability would free up diplomatic and economic resources of Asian giants in the region – China, Japan and South Korea – which would lead to growing engagement with African states. This commentary discusses the short and long term implication of the inter-Korean summit for Africa. [Continue reading]


By Suweon Kim
Extraordinary Researcher
Department of Political Studies
University of the Western Cape

Joelien Pretorius
Associate Professor
Department of Political Studies

University of the Western Cape

Tug-of-war: The Maldives and Sino-Indian competition in the Indian Ocean Region

19 March 2018

An ongoing political and constitutional crisis in the Maldives has shone a spotlight on emergent geopolitical competition, particularly between China and India, in the Indian Ocean region. For both Beijing and New Delhi, reliance on Indian Ocean trade routes is essential for their long-term economic prosperity. This reliance makes gaining influence with the Maldives, given its central location in the region, a key strategic objective of both countries. While multiple countries, such as Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE), have similar economic and security interests in the country, the competition between China and India for influence in the Maldives has been particularly acute. [Continue reading]

 By Robert Atwell
Asia-Pacific Risk and Security Analyst
S-RM, Risk Management, Business Intelligence and Cyber-Security
CCS Affiliate, Centre for Chinese Studies, Stellenbosch University

China’s environmental transformation: the role of foreign NGOs

15 NoNGOs in Chinavember 2017

The Chinese government’s favouring break-neck development at the expense of environmental protection is a view which is increasingly challenged in China today. This is not only because, following the United States’ (US) announcement to withdraw from the Paris climate agreement, China is now the world’s largest power spearheading the way forward. Additionally, domestic shifts have been long in the making. During the opening address of China’s recent 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China (CPC), Bloomberg showed that President Xi Jinping used the word “environment” and other related terms 89 times. Announcements related to environmental policy included: the creation of a new environmental body to regulate natural resources; China’s desire to become an “ecological civilisation” with economic and social growth prioritised alongside building a “beautiful” China by 2035 and the promotion of green development and the intensification of protecting ecosystems. [Continue reading]

 By Meryl Burgess
Research Fellow
Centre for Chinese Studies
Stellenbosch University

China takes its place at the head of the table

30 October 2017

On a recent trip to Berlin to meet Chinese personnel at think-tanks, non-governmental organisations and the foreign ministry, I was struck by a distinct shift in the tone with which China was discussed. On previous European trips it was discussed in terms of emergence: an emerging economy, an emerging donor, an emerging governance model. However, two weeks ago in Berlin, China was portrayed as fully emerged. In the past, the discussion focused on how a country lacking parliamentary elections could grow its economy so fast, for so long. Today, that doesn’t even enter the conversation. It is assumed, a granted, a given. What takes the foreground now is far more tangible, such as China’s dominance in global shipping and port development, transnational trade and resource corridors as part of its One Belt, One Road initiative, and China’s great leap forward in the big data and artificial intelligence industries. [Continue reading]

 By Ross Anthony
Centre for Chinese Studies
Stellenbosch University

Making a play for Africa: China, India and Japan compete for the continent’s favour

15 SeptembJPIDer 2017

Africa’s importance as a significant variable in the political and economic manoeuvrings of the world’s great powers is often overlooked or underestimated. However, in recent years, actions by Asia’s powerhouses – China, Japan and India – demonstrate the continent’s value as a platform for carrying out strategic competitive connectivity initiatives. Over the last three years (2014-2016), India and Japan have increased efforts to improve their economic engagement with Africa. In part, these efforts have largely been interpreted as a response to China’s One Belt One Road (OBOR) Initiative, a global economic development strategy introduced in 2013. With both India and Japan having unresolved territorial disputes and strategic tensions with their neighbour, they seem to remain suspicious of OBOR and view it as means to increase China’s political and economic influence and, subsequently, its power in the Indo-Pacific region and beyond. [Continue reading]


By Mandira Bagwandeen
Independent Researcher