The Centre for Chinese Studies (CCS) is researching Chinese engagement in Africa. Its main vocation is exploring the variety of interactions and actors in Sino-African relations, with an analytical interest in the political, economic, social and environmental sustainability of Chinese engagement in Africa.

The Inaugural and First Biennial Conference Of The Association For Asian Studies In Africa (A-Asia). University Of Ghana, Legon

September 2015

OrgConference cover pageanized by the Association for Asian Studies in Africa (A-Asia) in cooperation with the International Convention of Asia Scholars (ICAS), “AFRICA – ASIA” was the first ever conference held in Africa bringing together a multi-disciplinary – multi-sector ensemble of scholars and institutions from the continent and the rest of the world with sharing focus on Asia and Asia-Africa intellectual interactions.

The conference, through panels and roundtables, sought to assess the prospects for Asian Studies in Africa in a global context by addressing a number of theoretical and empirical questions that such an enterprise will raise: How should Asian studies be framed in Africa and African Studies in Asia? Is Asian studies relevant for Africa? What is the current state of capacity (institutional, intellectual, personnel, and so on) for Asian studies in Africa and can this be improved and how? How does (and must it?) Asian studies dovetail into the broader field of ‘Area studies’, as it has been developed mainly in Western institutions? Are new narratives required for understanding the very visible contemporary presence of Asia in Africa and Africa in Asia? What are the historical origins of this transregional connection? What is the current state of research on Africa-Asia (transnational) linkages?

This Conference was attended by: Ross Anthony. Yejoo Kim, Meryl Burgess and Harrie Esterhuyse.

To view the programme [click here]

FOCAC: Creating a platform for Africa’s sustainable development

August 2015

Since its establishment in 2000, FOCAC has become a crucial platform for collective dialogue and an effective mechanism for enhancing co-operation between China and African countries. Along with the evolution of China–Africa relations, the implications and subsequent responsibility of China has become greater than before. The pattern of Chinese engagement has become diversified and various actors have become involved; therefore a comprehensive approach is needed. This conference aimed to assess the role of FOCAC and to contribute to the preparation for the upcoming FOCAC VI meeting in South Africa by creating more in-depth knowledge. Participants at the conference are invited to network, catalyse ideas and share information. The conference will serve as a high level platform for discussion, fostering understanding among stakeholders and developing shared visions.

* The Conference was funded by the Embassy of the People’s Republic of China in the Republic of South Africa

To view the programme [click here]

Colloquium on China’s Aid and Soft Power in Africa

May 2015

Cover page KK BookThe colloquium was a collaborative project of the Confucius Institute at Rhodes University (Grahamstown) and the Centre for Chinese Studies, University of Stellenbosch (Stellenbosch), and was funded by the Hanban.

The aim of the colloquium was to engage with themes from Kenneth King’s Book:  China’s Aid & Soft Power in Africa: The Case for Education & Training (James Currey, 2013).

Jointly hosted by the Centre for Chinese Studies and the Confucius Institute, Rhodes University, the Colloquium “China’s Aid and Soft Power in Africa” looked at future challenges and opportunities in China’s engagement with Africa.  Themes covered were: China’s engagement with tertiary education in Africa within the broader context of soft power; The Diversity of China’s engagement: Confucius Institutes, agricultural demonstration centres; African students in China; short-term professional training, 20+20 partnerships; think tank partnerships; Training in Chinese large, medium and small-scale firms in Africa and A special focus on CI’s and Confucius Classrooms in Africa.

To view the programme [click here]

Programme African-Asian Encounters II: Rethinking African-Asian Relationships: Changing Realities – New Concepts

March 2015

AFRICAFRASO Conference cover pageAN-ASIAN ENCOUNTERS (II) was an international conference organised jointly by the Centre for Chinese Studies (CCS) at Stellenbosch University (South Africa) and the collaborative research programme “Africa’s Asian Options” (AFRASO) based at Goethe University, Frankfurt (Germany). It was part of a series of international conferences on African-Asian Encounters that started with the conference “New Cooperations – New Dependencies?” which took place in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia in March 2014.

Over the last 15 years, relations between Africans and Asians have multiplied, beginning with booming trade and increasing investments in Africa from Asia, that have been supplemented by a broad range of recently emerging social, political and cultural interactions. Globalisation not only entails the rise of large-scale economic and political communities but also a historic increase in identities born of human travel and the concepts and ideas stemming from it. An intensification in market-orientated economic interests between Asia and Africa has simultaneously given birth to significant inter-regional migrations including African traders in Guangzhou and Yiwu in China, African students in Kuala Lumpur, Chinese investors across Africa, and Vietnamese contract workers in Angola. We can see the use of Chinese traditional medicine in African urban settings and can ask about implications of Chinese goods being traded. What are effects on consumption patterns in rural contexts? In some instances, regional dynamics also spill-over into transregional relations. Relations between states are re-negotiated on all political levels and in all policy fields, accompanied and simultaneously challenged by new forms of collaboration of transnational civil society networks, including in matters such as environmental protection. Additionally, alternative geographic imaginaries of community are re-activated, not least of all the Indian Ocean and the various Africa-Asia linkages it has produced. Such relationships also overlap with earlier historical patterns of Africa-Asia interaction – both real and imagined – including transmigrations such as Arabic maritime conduits and the role of colonial powers in bringing Asian labour to Africa.

While empirical systematisation of these phenomena has considerably progressed over the last few years, their impact on ideas, concepts and imaginations of politics, economics and cultural
developments has barely been discussed. This conference aimed to identify and explore the multiplicity of ideas about societal development to which these processes have given rise. Which
new ways of imagining society and societal relations have emerged? How do recent African-Asian interactions inform concepts and ideas of “community”, “development”, “diplomacy” or
“sustainability” and the like? How do interactions “on the ground” inform these larger understandings and in which ways might such interactions differ from official discourses? The latter is an important question, firstly, for the sake of filling a gap in our understanding of how experiences with respective “others” have altered worldviews (both abroad and back in domestic settings). Secondly, localised cross-cultural currents can have direct effects on other aspects of societal relations such as business, governments and regional bodies: how much power are these latter bodies able to exert in defining and determining the way of thinking about interactions? Overall, the conference will be interested in how complex, contested historical processes inform such relationships and how history – both in its empirical dimensions as well as imaginaries of the past – is pressed into the service of the present to blend with new representations of African-Asian interactions.

To view the programme [click here]





2014, Year of South Africa in China – Building infrastructure and capacity in Higher Education: lessons from China and South Africaon

November 2014

One of the biggest challeDHET Programme 241114nges facing South Africa’s transformation of higher education institutions is the need for capacity building. Physically, this includes an urgent need for both new campus developments and the maintenance of existing ones. Educationally, it requires producing a new generation of staff and students equipped to deal with the unique challenges of the 21st Century. 2014, the ‘Year of South Africa in China’, is an opportune moment to reflect on the Chinese experience of Higher Education capacity building and assess what kinds of lessons South Africa can learn from it. Similarly, as 2015 is ‘the year of China in South Africa’, Chinese counterparts can learn from the challenges and opportunities of South African Higher Education development.  The choice of China is an obvious one:  With over 4000 universities and colleges and millions of enrolled students, China’s higher education system is vast. Its capacity has exploded in recent years: in 1997, 400 000 students graduated; in 2013, the figure was at 3 million. Such rapid expansion, albeit on a smaller scale, has also been experienced in South Africa which has, in the past two decades, had to rapidly expand the number of campuses to accommodate previously excluded and disadvantaged student populations. In both countries, university expansion is driven by national development plans which seek to urgently provide high-quality education to large, previously underprivileged constituencies.

This conference held jointly by the Department of Higher Education and Training, Facilities Management Department of Stellenbosch University and the Centre for Chinese Studies,  aimed to bring together experts from both China and South Africa to share their experiences in infrastructure and capacity building in Higher Education. The conference comprised of three themes. The first focused on ‘hard’ infrastructure – the planning, construction and maintenance of campuses. The second focused on ‘soft’ infrastructure, namely investments in human capacity with regard to curriculum and programme development. And, in recognition of the celebration of the ‘Year of South Africa in China’, we also focused on China-Africa joint educational co-operation, as well as the role of Confucius Institutes in South Africa. The third theme focused on sustainability issues in Higher Education, covering topics such as financial, environmental and human capital sustainability.

The cumulative result of the Conference was a mutual learning exercise in educational capacity building as well as an opportunity to forge new networks and partnerships.

To view the programme [click here]