China’s engagement with Africa has made the headlines in recent times as more African countries turn East for financial and technical assistance with business and development. There is increased commodity trade between the two, and last year, China surpassed the US as Africa’s largest trade partner with trade flows equaling an estimated US $200 billion.
Many African governments have expressed their support for the so-called Chinese model which they regard as being more rooted in partnership than in the traditional donor-beneficiary relationship that characterizes foreign assistance from the West. However, critics have warned that China’s engagement reeks of “neo-colonialism” and have denounced China’s poor record of human rights and environmental protection.
Despite the increased economic engagement between China and African governments, the level of dialogue at the grassroots and amongst citizens has been at a minimum. Chinese and Africans regard each another with curiosity, anticipation, and some would say, skepticism. This lack of interaction and understanding has spurred a number of violent incidents between the two communities in African countries like Zambia and, more recently, in Ghana where over 100 Chinese nationals involved in illegal mining were arrested.
- What’s the history behind China-Africa relations and how is the current engagement being approached by both parties?
- What do African and Chinese citizens think about China’s increased engagement on the continent?
- How can dialogue and mutual understanding be fostered between Chinese and Africans?
- Is the media painting a balanced and accurate picture of China-Africa relations? Is it overly optimistic?
- What are some of the opportunities and challenges with China-Africa relations and how can the relationship be enhanced for mutual benefit?
- Should development & poverty reduction be the cornerstones of China-Africa relations?
These questions and others were explored by our panelists on Thursday June 20, 2013 during “The China-Africa Debate” G+ Hangout hosted by BloggingGhana. Below is a YouTube recording of the entire hangout. You can also read a tweet recap here.
I recommend following their Twiiter accounts/websites for updates on China-Africa relations.
Nkemijika E. Kalu (Nigeria) – Ph.D at , researcher and specialist on African agency and motivations in engaging with China.
Hongxiang Huang (China) – Freelance Journalist focused on Chinese investment in South America & Africa, Founder, China-South Dialogue. URL: chinagoingout.org
Jemila Abdulai (Ghana) – Blogger & Online Journalist, Communications & International Development specialist focused on Africa .Twitter:@jabdulai URL: Circumspecte.com
Jemila Abdulai is the creative director, editor and founder of the award-winning website Circumspecte.com. A media and international development professional and economist by training, she combines her business, communications and project management expertise with her strong passion for Africa. Besides writing and reading, she enjoys travel, global cuisine, movies, and good design.