CACS Occasional Paper no 10

The Zambian Freedom Statue in Lusaka, symbolising Zambia’s liberation from colonial rule. Erected in 1974 to celebrate the 10th anniversary of Zambia’s independence, it honours freedom fighters who died during the anti-colonial struggle. Some critics say China’s involvement in Africa amounts to a new form of colonialism. Alex Mukuka / Wikimedia Commons.

China in Zambia: Special partner, or one of many?

Arve Ofstad, economist and former Norwegian ambassador to Zambia

The aim of this paper is to review China’s engagement with Zambia in relation to the activities of other partner countries as donors, lenders and investors. Some commentators seem to regard China’s presence in Zambia in recent years as unique; others claim that China always was a special friend that supported Zambia unconditionally, while others still regard China’s increased engagement as a new form of colonialism. This paper takes a broader view, and looks at similarities between the activities of China and other international actors as well as collaboration among them.

It largely focuses on the past two decades, during which China’s presence in Zambia has become more visible. The first section nevertheless recalls the early years when Chinese funding and construction of the Tazara railway was an important, but not the only, support to Zambia as a Frontline State supporting national liberation in southern Africa. The second section reviews international support to Zambia during the years of economic stagnation or decline (roughly 1975-2000), when China was generally absent. The third and fourth sections deal with aid programmes, loans and credits, investments and trade in mining and other sectors in recent years. The fifth section deals with some issues surrounding China’s alleged political influence in Zambia, followed by a conclusion.

The main finding is that, when situated in a longer time frame, China’s engagements with Zambia in terms of aid projects, loans and credits, and investments do not differ all that much from those of other major powers or development partners. The ‘traditional’ donors have been important contributors to Zambia’s development for decades. A major challenge today is to improve the transparency around the terms of Chinese grants and loans, including funding tied to Chinese companies. All development partners are pursuing a mixture of political, economic, and humanitarian motives. It is the responsibility of the Zambian authorities to safeguard Zambian interests and not fall victim to illicit payments or political pressures, while all international creditors, including the Chinese, need to be responsible lenders.


CACS Occasional Paper No 9

‘Catching Up After Half a Millennium’: Jeffrey Sachs on the Chinese Development Model

Bhaso Ndzendze
Research Director, CACS

This paper reviews the portrayal of Chinese economic history and more recent economic policy in the book The End of Poverty: Economic Possibilities for Our Time (2005) by the renowned American economist Jeffrey Sachs, specifically in a chapter entitled ‘Catching Up After Half a Millennium’. It traverses Sachs’s insights about past developments as well as future directions in China, particularly in respect of public health and the country’s east-west and north-south inequalities; and his comparative analysis of the economic reform attempts of China and the former Soviet sphere, and their differentiated outcomes. Therefore, the paper offers a meta-analysis of the convergence of Sachs’ analyses as they relate to other literature as well as empirical evidence not referred to or contrary to predictions made in the text some fifteen years after its publication.


CACS Occasional Paper No 8

Towards Solarium II: The US-China Trade War, and US Options for Countering the Rise of China

Charles Matseke
PhD Candidate, Central China Normal University

This Occasional Paper examines the current trade war between the US and China, and its implications for stability and the global order. Drawing on the theory of hegemonic power, it argues that the trade war has been initiated to counter the rise of China in the global political economy. perspective. Next, it uses International Relations theory, particularly the theory of hegemonic power, to assess the idea that the rise of China threatens US national interests and security. Follow this, it revisits Project Solarium formulated by President Dwight D Eisenhower to counter Soviet expansionism during the Cold War, and ask what could be expected next through the prism of hegemonic power in global politics. It concludes by arguing that just as Project Solarium was a long-term strategy to counter Soviet expansionism during the Cold War, the US will need a similar long-term strategy for countering the rise of China. The alternative would be to explore prospects for collective leadership, thereby departing from the hegemonic model of global politics.


CACS Occasional Paper No 7

The domestic origins and global implications of China’s reform and opening up

Dr Zhu Ming
Visiting scholar, Centre for Africa-China Studies, University of Johannesburg
October 2019

THE year 2018 marked the 40th anniversary of the reform and opening up of the People’s Republic of China (PRC), and 2019 marks the 70th anniversary of the PRC’s establishment. In this Occasional Paper, Dr Zhu Ming a researcher at the Shanghai Institutes for International Studies (SIIS) and a visiting Scholar at the CACS, looks back at China’s astounding development during the past four decades, but also the increasingly complex challengess it is likely to face in the future.


CACS Occasional Paper No 6

Sino-Ethiopian Trade and Investment Relations:
Actors, Determinants and Trends

Dr Messay Mulugeta
College of Development Studies, Addis Ababa University
September 2018

Since the late 1990s, extremely strong economic ties have developed between China and Ethiopia, with trade flows reaching more than US$3 billion a year, and Chinese investment in Ethiopia approaching US$3.5 billion in 2017 from a non-existent base two decades previously. Chinese investments have created vital infrastructure, jobs for thousands of Ethiopians, and valuable skills and technology transfers. This relationship provides Ethiopia with an unprecedented opportunity to benefit from the most rapidly developing economy in the world.

Given that the African Union is based in Addis Ababa, it also has major economic implications for Africa as a whole. At the same time, it presents Ethiopia with significant challenges, namely to adapt Chinese resources and technologies to local circumstances and local priorities, ensuring, among others, that development is sustainable, environmentally sound, and protects rather than displaces local communities. In this Occasional Paper, Dr Mulugeta argues that this will require transformative and accountable leaders capable of harnessing and channeling the vast opportunities coming in from China.

Produced in partnership with the Oxfam Pan Africa Programme.


CACS Occasional Paper No 5

Sino-South African Relations at Twenty: Key Lessons

Dr David Monyae, Co-Director, CACS
Gibson Banda, Research Intern
January 2018

In 2018, China and South Africa will celebrate 20 years of formal diplomatic ties. This relationship is vital for regional African prosperity, South-South solidarity, and North-South dialogue. It is important for South Africa, which has increasingly sought alternatives to the western-dominated international arena, as well as China, which is seeking more active strategic partners as well as a greater role in Africa.

This paper assesses South Africa’s relationship with China, seeking to gauge its cost and benefits for both parties. What benefits has South Africa obtained from switching recognition from Taipei to mainland China in 1998? The authors argue that this has substantially benefited both parties, but that some areas need attention. To this end, they offer a number of policy prescriptions for the next two decades and beyond.


CACS Occasional Paper No 4

Implications of the US-led War on Terror for Africa-China relations

Bhaso Ndzendze, Director of Research, CACS

China has come to match, and in some instances replace, the US as the pre-eminent economic and political player in East Africa. This study examines whether this is due to the US-led War on Terror, which has associated it with insulated (and sometimes controversial) priorities; a disregard for international institutions and laws; bellicosity against African states and African allies; and political interference and even regime change in other countries in several world regions, including Libya and Iraq. In theory, all these factors could have diminished American influence and created a vacuum that came to be filled by China which, while fighting its own war on terror, has shunned interference in the internal affairs of other countries, thereby bolstering its ‘soft power’ appeal among African countries.

This study finds, however, that the War on Terror only led to the US being displaced by China in one of four East African countries studied, namely Sudan. In the others, Uganda, Kenya and Djibouti, the War on Terror has actually strengthened US involvement. This shows that US-led efforts against terrorism in African countries have helped to make them safer for Chinese investment as well.

The study also points to important conclusions about how most African states view international engagement involving the US and China. Rather than applying the bipolar Cold War lens of maintaining relations with one major power only (either China or the US), they are open to engagement with both these countries insofar as both have developmental routes to offer that are not mutually exclusive.


CACS Occasional Paper No 3

The Relevance of Ubuntu for African Development and International Relations in the Global Future: Comments on Muxe Nkondo

Peter O Ndege, Professor of History, Moi University, Eldoret, Kenya
September 2017

With the demise of apartheid, and South Africa’s transition to black majority rule, the twin philosophies of Ubuntu and the African Renaissance appeared on the African landscape. At the same time, the discourse about Ubuntu echoes the debates about previous African philosophies and ideologies. Professor Muxe Nkondo has joined the fray, with his latest paper on Ubuntu (UJCI Africa-China Occasional Paper no 2, August 2017) providing an opportunity not only to comment on his ideas, but also to contribute to the debate. This paper highlights and critiques some of the key issues raised by Nkondo. It then analyzes the nature of Ubuntu, and assesses the extent to which it is either a creative or defensive ideology in the light of Nkondo’s propositions, and as seen against the realities on the ground. Next, it analyzes Ubuntu’s implications for Africa’s international relations, before reaching some conclusions.

CACS Occasional Paper No 2

Ubuntu as Public Policy: Challenges and Opportunities

Professor Muxe Nkondo

Edited version of a paper presented at the South Africa–China High-Level Dialogue on 25 April 2017. Organised by the Mediation Support, Policy Research and Analysis Unit, Department of International Relations and Cooperation, in collaboration with the China Public Diplomacy Association

Liberal democracies have reached a stage where the moral person is increasingly giving way to the one-dimensional, commercial, and self-serving person. This process, aided by the unprecedented development of science and technology, is assuming huge proportions and power, obscuring human values under the shadow of soulless neoliberal capitalist forces. How can governments foster the development of Ubuntu as public policy? How can enterprises such as schools, hospitals, farms, businesses, workplaces, and courts be founded on Ubuntu principles? How can governments and their partners work together on the agenda for fundamental change, sharing responsibilities, encouraging one another in the development of Ubuntu principles, and offering a high-quality public service? These are among the issues examined in this Occasional Paper.