Securing Chinese assets and personnel in South Sudan: the role of state and non-state actors

As Chinese investments on the African continent grow, questions have arisen regarding the ways in which the Chinese state and corporations protect assets and personnel abroad. More broadly, in what ways do such measures compromise China’s oft-touted “non-interference” policy? This research project, written in conjunction with Jiang Hengkun (Zhejiang Normal University) seeks to map out the terrain through an examination of Chinese security practices in South Sudan. By drawing on examples of scale, from state-owned oil enterprises to small urban traders, the research highlights varying roles which the Chinese state plays in relation to its citizens’ protection abroad.  The research is based on a Saferworld funded field trip to South Sudan in April 2013.

Completed – For project output and results please see:
[External publication]


South African relations with China and Taiwan – Economic realism and the ‘One China’ doctrine

The project engages in an empirical comparison between the economic relations of South Africa and the PRC, and South Africa and Taiwan, in light of the (potentially conflicting) foreign policy doctrine of ‘One China’. As its primary question, this research will examine the extent of political reach into the economic exchanges which occur between the three parties, with a specific focus on South Africa’s ability to navigate its way through such a challenging relationship. The project examines ways in which the harnessing and deployment of non-state-actors enables South Africa to adapt to new political contexts. More broadly, it is anticipated that this research will shed light on the primacy of economic trade with regards to South Africa’s foreign policy toward East Asia, and an underlying pragmatism which may be at odds with official policy.

Completed – For project output and results please see:
[CCS Research Report]
[CCS Policy Briefing]


Labour relations in SEZs in Southern Africa and their implications for Chinese investors

In Africa, Special Economic Zones (SEZs), especially those that are Chinese led, have been a controversial issue with regard to their (expected) effects. On the one hand, African countries continue to plan the establishment of SEZs in the hope of attracting foreign investment and creating local employment. On the other hand, many commentators cast doubt on the effects of SEZs regarding any real contribution to the economic growth of the host country. Especially following several conflicts between Chinese management and local employees, labour issues in SEZs have been in the hot seat in the situation that the conditions of labour in host countries have deteriorated. Against this background, the proposed research aims to explore labour relations in SEZs in Southern African countries such as Zambia and Mauritius, as well as their implications for Chinese investors.

Completed – For project output and results please see:
[CCS Discussion paper]


Low-end globalisation: Sino-African small traders

The research project focuses on Chinese small traders in Africa and African small traders in China, thereby scrutinising the so-called ‘globalisation from below’. Migration is also part of the broader picture of Sino-African relations, alongside China’s engagement based on state-to-state projects that enable Chinese companies to venture to Africa. In recent years, numerous Chinese migrants (traders, entrepreneurs, businessmen; etc) have settled in Africa, setting up businesses in major African cities and in rural or small areas across the continent – changing the supply and trade patterns for these areas. At the same time, China’s economic rise and development have also caught the eyes of African traders. An important population of African traders has decided to settle in Guangzhou and Yiwu for business opportunities and a number of African traders regularly travel to Southern and Eastern China, benefitting from the frequency of flights between Chinese and African cities to get Chinese products at cheap prices. The study will analyse the motives, operations and the background of these small traders on both sides, and compare the different socio-economic roles that the traders play in their host and home countries.

Completed – For project output and results please see:
[CCS Policy brief – Chinese in Senegal]
[CCS Policy brief – Africans in China]
[External article – Portrait of Chinese Traders in Dakar]


Regulating environmental protection: national parks in China and South Africa

A study currently undertaken under this research area is an environmental protection study on the regulation and management of national parks in China and South Africa. Due to the increasing loss of biodiversity globally, protected areas such as national parks, nature reserves, botanical gardens and historical areas have become necessary to establish. National parks, however, unlike the other protected areas have been viewed as more important for the safeguarding of biodiversity as they not only serve as tourist attractions but primarily, and under strict regulation, as a protected space for ecological systems and natural habitats. In China, a variety of external threats such as development, industrialisation, agriculture and high population growth have had extreme consequences for the country’s rich biodiversity. This has further led to a need for environmental protection through an increase in protected areas. This study thus examines the current state of protected areas in China as well as their recent establishment of national parks. Similar to China, South Africa also has some of the richest biodiversity in the world and has been facing similar threats to its natural environment. For this reason, this study also examines South Africa’s much older national parks system and uses the South African case as an example of where China could potentially learn from another country.

The study thus examines the role of national parks in ecological conservation, in the face of current challenges. Furthermore, it looks at the special challenge of tourism in parks as ecotourism becomes more and more popular for tourists around the world. The study further focuses on the regulation and management of national parks in both countries. In the end, this study aims to explore where China can learn from South Africa and vice versa in terms of environmental protection and the regulation thereof in their respective protected areas.

Completed – For project output and results please see:
[Discussion paper]
[China Monitor]