As many friends and colleagues know, one of my two core research agendas considers Africa’s changing relationships with rising powers in the world, and in particular China.
Here are some of the latest (well, I was on vacation a couple weeks so some of this may not seem very recent to all of you!) items I’ve found:
Secretary Clinton’s trip to the continent has included a number of important statements about US policy towards Africa and its interpretation of China’s role on the continent.
- The Wall Street Journal (June 11) starts off saying that Clinton “warned that China didn’t always have Africa’s interests at heart”, but that the US was interested in cooperating with China in Africa.
- NPR’s story (June 11, “China Latest Superpower to Mine African Treasures”) sees China’s presence in Africa as a reason for Clinton’s visit.
- Over at the Huffington Post, Jamie Bechtel(June 7, “USA 5: China 1: Africa 0. It’s Time to Get our Game On”) takes an oversimplified look at how the US and China are engaging in Africa, but she is absolutely right that we lack adequate policy coherence with regards to our role on the continent.
- Simon Lester, on the International Economic Law and Policy Blog, follows a series of interesting African TV show interviews (with Secretary Clinton, for instance) to consider “which has a more colonialist feel: investment with no concern for the impact on the host country, or using trade and investment as a tool to influence how a foreign country is governed?”
Meanwhile, Antoaneta Becker’s IPS story (June 7, “North Africa: China Begins to Look Away from Africa”,via allAfrica.com) suggests that recent political uprisings in North Africa could change China’s perceptions of doing business in the continent. If that is the case, then I must wonder: does China have the same “Africa is a country” problem that so many people seem to have here in the US?
Sean Jacobs at “Africa is a Country” mentions a new documentary,“When China Met Africa”. The trailer seems interesting, though this is a subject that is a bit easy to sensationalize.
I like the anecdote in Giles Mohan’s piece (in the African Arguments blog) of an Angolan official who is asked about China’s role there: “[he] looked at us incredulously asking why we were so obsessed with the Chinese. He said they were only one amongst a range of new investors, and his country was open for business to all of them.” Indeed, while China has emerged as Angola’s key trading partner, any account of Angola’s external trade and investment would have to include consideration of other rising economies, including Brazil.
Deborah Brautigam does her usual service to our understanding of China-Africa relations by providing some correctives to an April story in The Economist.