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Transformation in Southern Africa – What is the role of China?

Date: 10 October 2017 | Time: 18:00 to 20:00 | Venue: Committee Room 10, Palace of Westminster

Speaker: Professor Stephen Chan OBE

Chair: Rt Hon the Lord Tom McNally

China has become increasingly engaged politically and economically with African nations and the nature of its involvement across the continent is highly varied – while it supports infrastructure development, the service sector, manufacturing and natural resources projects, it’s loans also increase African debt.

But what might be the Chinese motives behind these engagements – political influence or profit? Are they any different from those of Western nations?

Some countries are responding very successfully, as they learn that today, in a time of competition for resources, they can dictate or negotiate terms. But which are successful and which not? What might we all learn from these experiences?


Professor Stephen Chan was awarded the OBE in 2010, “for services to Africa and higher education”. In the same year, the International Studies Association at its annual conference awarded him the title Eminent Scholar in Global Development. At the same time, the University of Johannesburg elected him Honorary Professor of Humanities.


Stephen has been twice been Dean at the School of Oriental and African Studies in the University of London – where he also holds the Chair in International Relations. He has held senior positions at other British universities and been Honorary Professor at the University of Zambia; twice Visiting Fellow at Queen Elizabeth House, Oxford; and held visiting appointments at African, American, European, New Zealand, and Taiwanese universities.


Formerly an international civil servant with the Commonwealth Secretariat, Stephen helped pioneer modern electoral observation at the Zimbabwean independence elections and has worked throughout Africa on diplomatic and academic assignments.


He remains active in diplomatic work and is the only academic member of the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office ‘Ginger Group’ on Africa. He has also worked closely with the UK Ministry of Defence, has consulted for the US State Department and other governments, and been active in several plausibly ‘back channel’ diplomatic manoeuvres in Africa, China, and the Middle East.


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