Understanding the burgeoning relationship between China and Africa at a human level
Given the growing degree of economic collaboration between China and the countries of Africa, and the ever increasing flow of people in both directions, there is clearly a need for a postgraduate programme that offers a serious comparative international understanding of this deepening relationship.
That’s why Lingnan is excited to announce the launch of a specialisation programme, Concentration on China-Africa Studies, as part of its existing MA in International Affairs. This one-year full-time programme commences in September 2020.
Currently there are approximately one million Chinese living and working in various countries across Africa, and numerous Africans in Guangdong alone. However, the realisation of the full potential of this relationship, both for individuals and businesses, is being held back by a shortage of people with a true understanding of the differing cultures and socio-political systems involved.
“There’s been misconceptions about China’s interest in Africa and whether it is of mutual benefit,” Dr Padmore Amoah, of the School of Graduate Studies, cites by way of example. “This MA aims to take away some of the myths and look at what is really going on in this relationship.”
The programme promises to be ideal preparation for anyone intending to pursue careers paths which include those in diplomacy, foreign affairs, journalism, education, tourism, PR, within international organisations such as NGOs, or at the executive levels of corporate management.
While the programme is housed under the School of Graduate Studies and the Department of Political Science, it incorporates key contributions from other disciplines, including Cultural Studies, Sociology, and Economics. The goal is to incorporate a range of perspectives and provide students with the broadest possible understanding of the relationship between China and Africa.
Via it’s global network, Lingnan is collaborating with a number of research centres at universities in Africa, China and Europe, in the development of the Concentration on China-Africa Studies. “We also hope to give our students the opportunity to visit some of these centres,” Dr Amoah explains.
While providing a comprehensive overview, the programme’s array of courses will also enable students to go deeper into particular areas of interests. These courses are:
- Theories and Approaches of International Relations
- Politics of Global Economic Interdependence
- Theories and Approaches of Comparative Politics
- Introduction to China-Africa Studies
- China-Africa Relations: Past and Present
- Religion, Culture and Development in Africa and China
- International Symposium on Sino-African Studies (based on an annual symposium on varying themes on China-Africa)
- Long Essay on Comparative China-Africa Studies
Depth and exposure
Though China is geographically vast, Africa is a continent consisting of 54 separate countries, many with distinct cultures and political systems. The new Concentration on China-Africa Studies fully takes on board this complex and nuanced set of relationship.
“We will first look at the cardinal areas of Africa: Western, Southern, Central, Northern and Eastern,” Dr Amoah points out. Students will then be given the opportunity to study the countries of their choice in depth, such as when they’re working on their own project.
Lingnan has gained a reputation for innovative approaches to course delivery. One of this MA’s courses takes the form of participation in a specially designed international multi-day symposium on Africa-China relations, to be held at the university.
Relevant and respected scholars from around the globe will be invited to join the symposium - as will participants in this programme. The students will have to interact with the prestigious attendees and also lead discussions. Afterwards, they will report on what they’ve learned and explain how they would use this knowledge and understanding in any research projects they conduct in the future.
Why Lingnan is this MA programme’s natural home
Geographically, Lingnan is located very close to Hong Kong’s border with China’s Guangdong Province, where the majority of African migrants are settled, and many others regularly come to trade or study.
More significantly, however, the university’s faculty boasts very strong Africa-related expertise, and in recent years its research capability in this field has been further developed. “We have strong links with a global research network that is also working on Africa-China relations, and we make maximum use of these external resources,” notes Professor Joshua Mok, Dean of School of Graduate Studies. In July 2020, the Conference of the Chinese in Africa Africans in China Research Network, the biggest event on China-Africa relations in Asia, will be held at Lingnan.
A liberal arts university, such as Lingnan, can bring a unique perspective to the study of China-Africa relations, a subject which is fundamentally about developing a better understanding between people from historically different cultures.
“No other university has mounted a similar comparative international programme,” explains Professor Mok. “We strongly believe that comparative international learning is so important in nurturing our students to be global citizens.”
To learn more about Master of Arts in International Affairs, please click here.