Blog entries from: China in Africa: The Real Story

Digging into the myths and realities

1 to 8 of 8

November 20 2014

From China in Africa: The Real Story Thu Nov 20 2014, 12:35:00

A new paper released by the folks at AidData argues that Chinese aid goes disproportionately to the birthplace regions of African leaders. Media comment is building up on this paper, and an article in The Guardian seems to be leading the way. I am actually somewhat sympathetic to the argument of the paper. My own anecdotal observations suggest that at least one of the 3 primary schools financed by the Chinese in their recent FOCAC pledges has often been located in an African president's hometown. However, the vast majority of Chinese official aid projects are financed in capital cities -- something the researchers neglected to discuss.

Unfortunately, I think the Guardian article got a few things wrong.

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November 13 2014

From China in Africa: The Real Story Thu Nov 13 2014, 17:45:00

We've seen a lot of discussion of the news media coverage of the new report by the Environmental Investigation Agency of the criminal ivory smuggling racket and its claims of Chinese diplomatic involvement in this criminal activity. Anthropology Professor Stephanie Rupp at the City University of New York is an expert on these issues, and a China-Africa hand. I asked her if she would give us a guest post for the blog:In the wake of recent claims regarding officials from the Chinese government's involvement in ivory smuggling, the impact and demand of China for elephant ivory has once again come to the fore. A recent report released by the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) catalogues the impact of Chinese criminal syndicates and Tanzanian corruption in the ivory trade.  This ...

In the Congo River basin, where my research is focused, elephants have been aggressively targeted with a marked surge over the past decade.  Indeed just this week 256 elephant tusks were confiscated in southern Cameroon.  When I returned to my research site in southeastern Cameroon on the border with the Republic of Congo in the summer of 2014, the price of ivory in had increased tenfold over the past decade, from $40/kilo to $400/kilo.  The urgency of the situation for elephant populations throughout the continent is clear: elephants in both forest and savannah contexts are under severe pressures from poaching.  ...

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November 11 2014

From China in Africa: The Real Story Tue Nov 11 2014, 10:01:00

Thought I would share an interview I did last week with Young China Watchers (YCW), which is "a dynamic group of young professionals seeking to foster the next generation of China thought-leaders. Through regular roundtables and talks with senior figures in the China academic, policy, and business communities, and through original interviews and feature articles, it provides a chance for engaged individuals to interact and discuss the most pressing issues emerging from China today."

Click here for the interview, where you can also see the latest version of the cover of my new book! 

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November 5 2014

From China in Africa: The Real Story Wed Nov 5 2014, 09:47:00

Yesterday Senator Kerry came to our School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) to talk about the US relationship with China, describing it as the most consequential relationship our country has for the 21st century. He touched on China's role in Africa, positively -- a change from the past, where Secretary Clinton several times described China-Africa relations as a kind of neo-colonialism. Here's what Kerry said:

And as we've seen recently with the Ebola epidemic, China has also shown that it is prepared to take on a bigger role in addressing international crises - including those that emerge far from Asia, even those on the opposite side of the globe. We're very grateful that China has committed more than $130 million to date in aid and supplies to help address the Ebola crisis. ...

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November 4 2014

From China in Africa: The Real Story Tue Nov 4 2014, 09:30:00

Looking into oil exports from Africa today -- an intern wrote up a story on a recent talk I gave. She sent me a draft, and I saw that she had mistakenly heard me say that China was taking 90 percent of Africa's resources (what I had actually said was that natural resources and commodities make up 90 percent of Chinese imports from Africa).

I know a lot of people still believe that China is vacuuming up the vast majority of Africa's resource exports. So what is the data? Let's look at oil. According to the US government's Energy Information Administration (EIA) China is importing 22% of sub-Saharan Africa's oil.

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October 28 2014

From China in Africa: The Real Story Tue Oct 28 2014, 09:32:00


The Financial Times tongue-in-cheek "Danwei Model Workers" list of websites on China honored the excellent China Africa Project in its "Model Worker of the Year (Podcast)" awards today. I love what the China Africa Project is are doing. Always lively, always worth checking out.

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October 24 2014

From China in Africa: The Real Story Fri Oct 24 2014, 08:56:00

Conflict and minerals in the DRC. copyright Mark Craemer

China is still a relatively new player in African resource investments. Given the poor social and environmental record of Chinese mining and oil companies at home -- and the challenges that face most companies operating in these sectors in Africa (think: Shell in the Niger Delta) or even off the shores of the United States (think: BP in the Gulf of Mexico) Chinese companies have had a steep learning curve about the risks of "going global". Global Witness has come out with a helpful new report on one aspect of these risks: complicated new laws that prohibit the import of minerals from conflict zones, and require source tracing: "Tackling Conflict Minerals: How a New Chinese Initiative Can Address Companies' Risks."

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October 15 2014

From China in Africa: The Real Story Wed Oct 15 2014, 17:08:00

Photo credit: limaoscarjuliet. 

As many readers know, I am writing a book on China's agricultural investments in Africa. One of pieces of conventional wisdom I am questioning is the assumption that China wants to source its food in Africa. It's clear from detailed COMTRADE trade data that China actually exports far more food to Africa than the reverse. But that database is a pain to use.

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