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A weekly discussion about China's engagement across Africa hosted by journalist Eric Olander in Shanghai and Asia-Africa scholar Cobus van Staden in Johannesburg.
 
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Africa is urbanizing faster than any region in the world. Today, an estimated 472 million Africans live in cities and that number is expected to double over the next 25 years, according to research by the Center for Strategic and International Studies. That means governments have to start to build massive amounts of infrastructure now to accomm ...…
 
Author and Hudson Institute senior research fellow Bruno Maçães joins Eric and Cobus to discuss the key drivers of China's hugely ambitious Belt and Road Initiative that he outlined in his recent book, "Belt and Road: A Chinese World Order." He also explains why he thinks the U.S. has good reason to worry that its time as the global hegemonic p ...…
 
Kenya's National Environmental Tribunal ruled this week that the government and its industry-allies failed to submit a proper environmental impact assessment to build a coal power on Lamu island. The $2 billion plant, with more than half of the financing coming from the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC), was projected to produce 1, ...…
 
Blessed with generous government-backed loans and low-cost, high-quality equipment, Chinese technology companies have transformed African telecommunications. Millions can now connect for voice and data using devices made by Tecno, Huawei, and ZTE among countless others. Similarly, in media, private companies like StarTimes and state-backed prop ...…
 
Johns Hopkins University professor and director of the China-Africa Research Initiative in Washington, D.C., Deborah Brautigam, joins Eric & Cobus this week to discuss accusations that China engages in so-called "debt trap diplomacy." The "debt trap" narrative, also commonly referred to as "predatory lending," states that China uses excessive l ...…
 
Representatives from 53 African countries are expected to attend the inaugural China-Africa Economic and Trade Expo that will take place in Changsha, capital of the south-central province of Hunan, from June 27-29. Those African officials attending the expo will no doubt have one over-riding objective: sell more stuff to China. At first glance, ...…
 
At first glance, China's engagement in Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) looks a lot like what it's doing in Africa. Just as China surpassed Europe as Africa's largest trading partner, China has similarly overtaken the U.S. as LAC's largest export market. While China's trade with Africa dipped significantly from 2014 through 2017, it's a di ...…
 
[EDITOR'S NOTE: This episode was recorded before the United States government announced that it would blacklist Huawei and blocked the company from using Google's Android operating system and other apps.] It is hard to overstate Huawei's singular importance in the development of Africa's information technology sector. Over the past ten years th ...…
 
It’s well documented that a lot of people in Ghana and elsewhere in Africa resent the growing Chinese migrant presence, both in terms of the people who come and the Chinese way of doing business that is often culturally out of sync with local customs. Those perceptions, however, can be misleading. While an influx of Chinese business people in p ...…
 
China's critics, led largely by the United States, are determined to warn developing countries about the risks of borrowing too much money from Beijing. They contend China will use these loans to financially entrap economically vulnerable countries as part of a broader effort to exert political influence and control. Mark Akpaninyie does not ag ...…
 
In the U.S. and many parts of Europe, China's Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) is often seen as "Trojan Horse" where Beijing uses the lure of trade and investment to discretely extend its political influence around the world. Not surprisingly, in China, those U.S. and European fears are quickly dismissed. Understanding these different perceptions ...…
 
37 foreign heads of state came to Beijing this week to take part in the second Belt and Road summit hosted by Chinese president Xi Jinping. Some leaders like Kenya's president Uhuru Kenyatta came with expectations to sign huge infrastructure loan deals, while others, including Ethiopian prime minister Abiy Ahmed, asked for debt relief. But amid ...…
 
Throughout the history of China's engagement in Africa, even today, Beijing has spent most of its time and resources to foster ties with elites across the continent. And it's done a remarkable job. Political leaders across Africa have built strong relationships with their counterparts in China, establishing powerful bonds built on hard-earned t ...…
 
The U.S.-based Environmental Investigation Agency recently published the findings of a four-year investigation into illegal logging practices in the Congo Basin, specifically in the Republic of Congo and Gabon. Timber sourced from this region makes it ways into supply chains in Europe, China, and the U.S., much of it coming from the Dejia Group ...…
 
This week, Colonel Chris Wyatt, Director of African Studies at the U.S. Army War College, joins Eric & Cobus to discuss a conservative U.S. foreign policy outlook regarding Africa and his views on Chinese engagement on the continent. Colonel Wyatt is a professional military officer with more than 36 years of experience in security, internationa ...…
 
In this week's episode, Effy Zhang, a Beijing-based global affairs reporter for the privately-run financial news outlet Caixin, joins Eric & Cobus to talk about how she covers China-Africa issues for her readers in China. It's interesting to compare Chinese news coverage from that African and international reports that are often starkly differe ...…
 
China-Africa trade rebounded in 2018 after several years of steady declines. Trade between the two regions last year increased by nearly 20% to $204 billion, according to the Chinese Ministry of Commerce. The bulk of Africa's exports to China is raw materials, namely oil ($46.3 billion), minerals ($37.04 billion) and timber ($13 billion). While ...…
 
Born in China, raised in Ghana, Zhao Huiling is part of a new generation of young social media storytellers who aims to tell a very different China-Africa story than what you see in traditional media. Huiling joins Eric & Cobus to talk about her new video blog or vlog, where she shares her personal stories about Africa to her followers on Chine ...…
 
While there are a growing number of books that explore the China-Africa relationship, most are written either by scholars or journalists who are experts in the field and are written in a style that is often inaccessible for people new to this subject. Beijing-based author and social entrepreneur Lina Getachew Ayenew saw this as the perfect oppo ...…
 
25 years ago, China and South Africa were largely estranged from one another. The two countries didn't even recognize each other recognize each other as the former apartheid government in Pretoria maintained diplomatic ties with China's bitter rival in Taiwan. Wits University postdoctoral research fellow Christopher Williams has closely followe ...…
 
The number of African university students in China has exploded over the past twenty years, surging from just under 2,000 in 2003 to almost 50,000 today. In fact, China is now second only to France as a destination for African students. But what happens to these students after graduation? Their visas typically require them to leave the country ...…
 
Emeka Umejei, a visiting assistant professor in journalism and media studies at the American University of Nigeria in Yola, is an expert on how Chinese hardware companies like Huawei are re-shaping Africa's internet. He joins Eric & Cobus to discuss the political calculations that African states are making in their decision to rebuff the United ...…
 
Kenya is the latest African country to integrate Mandarin language studies into its national curriculum, following South Africa, Tanzania, and Uganda. The curriculum development institute in Nairobi said the new Chinese language teaching plan is complete and will be introduced to primary school students beginning in 2020. There is certainly a g ...…
 
When U.S. National Security Advisor John Bolton announced Washington's new strategy for Africa last December, he mentioned China 14 times in his speech. So often, in fact, that a lot of observers commented that the new policy seemed to be more focused on containing China's rising influence on the continent than on Africa itself. Now, two months ...…
 
The last time the United States fought a Cold War it led to devastating, long term consequences for Africa. Now, as the U.S. moves to challenge China's growing influence around the world, Africa risks becoming collateral damage in yet another great power rivalry. Rand Corporation Policy Analyst Ali Wyne joins Eric & Cobus to discuss his recent ...…
 
Just as with other aspects of the China-Africa relationship, critics and advocates alike can see what they want in the growing presence of Chinese technology in Africa. For some perspective on the implications of China's growing influence on the African tech sector, Eric & Cobus are joined this week by two professors in the United States who ar ...…
 
Africa's rising indebtedness to China is prompting concern across the continent that governments need to do a better job negotiating infrastructure financing deals. Too often, critics contend, the Chinese are simply out-maneuvering their African counterparts in the negotiating process. University of Oxford scholar Folashadé Soulé among the worl ...…
 
Given the tensions and controversies that have shaped China's decades-long engagement in Africa, it's a bit surprising that there are so few fictional books on the subject. For some reason, Africa's deep reservoir of talented writers has largely avoided using the Chinese presence on the continent as theme or character in their novels. The situa ...…
 
In this special episode of the China in Africa Podcast, Eric & Cobus look back on the most important stories of 2018. Not surprisingly, debt dominated the agenda as key stakeholders on both sides began to show signs of concern that China is lending too much and Africa is borrowing way more than it can reasonably handle. Join the discussion. Wha ...…
 
Pretty much every major economic indicator suggests that the Chinese economy will continue its downward momentum in 2019. Industrial production, retail sales, and even the once red-hot property market are all showing real signs of weakness. Some economists even believe that economic growth in China next year will even fall below the psychologic ...…
 
Amid rising concern over surging debt levels in Africa and costly infrastructure projects that are economically unsustainable, both Chinese and a number of African governments are now beginning to re-evaluate their approach on how to pay for large-scale infrastructure projects. This week Eric and Cobus discuss the increasingly contentious polit ...…
 
London-based independent journalist Ismail Einashe joins Eric & Cobus to talk about his latest reporting trip to Africa where he wrote about China's deteriorating standing in several African countries, most notably Kenya and Zambia. Ismail has covered the China-Africa relationship for a number of years, reporting for news organizations in the U ...…
 
This week Dr. Stacey Links joins Eric & Cobus from Amsterdam to discuss her research in the role that human rights plays within the broader China-Africa relationship. Stacey, a South African native, recently completed her Ph.D. on the subject at the University of Utrecht in the Netherlands. She explains why the human rights dimension of the Chi ...…
 
In this week's show, we bring you two perspectives on the promise and peril of increased Chinese technology investment in Africa. Harriet Kariuki is an emerging markets analyst in Kenya where she surveys the digital landscape and local start-up scene to identify investment opportunities for foreign companies, including many from China. Harriet ...…
 
Known as the "quiet community," the Chinese in South Africa have built complex social and business networks that largely exist outside of the margins of the country's fractious racial and political landscape. That is now beginning to change with China's emergence as South Africa's most important trading partner and one of the country's largest ...…
 
Yu-Shan Wu, a researcher at the Africa-China Research Project at Wits University joins Eric and Cobus this week to discuss a recent paper that she co-wrote with Cobus and professor Chris Alden from the London School of Economics about Africa's role, or agency, in the ongoing debt trap debate. Join the discussion. How do you see Africa's positio ...…
 
Dr. Obert Hodzi, a scholar at Boston University's African Studies Center and a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Helsinki joins Eric & Cobus to discuss his new book "The End of China's Non-Intervention Policy in Africa" and why he thinks this major Chinese policy shift is happening in Africa faster than in other parts of the world. J ...…
 
Walter Ruigu, Managing Director of Beijing-based China-Africa Merchant Advisors, joins Eric & Cobus to discuss the current state of Sino-African trade relations. In particular, he explains why the data that indicates a dramatic slowdown in two-way trade is misleading due to distortions related to Chinese purchases of African oil. Join the discu ...…
 
U.S. president Donald Trump signed the Better Utilization of Investments Leading to Development, also known as the BUILD Act, into law on October 5th, creating a powerful new development finance organization that is aimed at challenging China’s dominance in lending to developing countries. The law combines two existing organizations, the United ...…
 
This week Eric and Cobus discuss the recent surge of anti-Chinese sentiment in Zambia where public anger is on the rise against politicians in both Lusaka and Beijing. Critics accuse both governments of not being sufficiently transparent about debt and whether core Zambian infrastructure assets are at risk. The heightened anxiety about the Chin ...…
 
Kai Xue, a Beijing-based attorney who specializes in outbound investment in developing countries, is among a growing number of Chinese analysts who is increasingly skeptical of the government’s rationale for committing so much money to Africa when there may better opportunities for Chinese investment elsewhere, particularly along the Belt and R ...…
 
Nairobi-based international development economist Anzetse Were suggests in a new paper for the South African Institute of International Affairs that Kenya's leaders, not China, should be the ones held accountable for borrowing too much money without a detailed, transparent plan on how to repay the loans. She joins Eric & Cobus to discuss the gr ...…
 
Longtime China-Africa scholar Luke Patey, a senior researcher at the Danish Institute of International Affairs, is among a growing number of analysts who believe that the outcome of this year's FOCAC summit clearly demonstrated that Africa now has a diminished role in China's global economic agenda. Luke joins Eric & Cobus to discuss what's beh ...…
 
Former CEO of the African Finance Corporation and current Quartz Africa columnist Andrew Alli joins Eric & Cobus to discuss why infrastructure financing will likely top the agenda at the Forum on China Africa Cooperation summit that convenes in Beijing on September 3. Join the discussion. Do you think it's wise for African leaders to borrow hug ...…
 
Environmental issues no longer appear to be a top priority in the China-Africa dialogue. While there have been a lot of discussions about health, military and media issues in the run-up to next month's FOCAC summit, there's been little to no mention of wildlife conservation, pollution or other green-related topics that were once a key focal poi ...…
 
Longtime China-Africa analyst and University of Pretoria Phd candidate Yushan Wu joins Eric & Cobus for a lively discussion on whether it still makes sense for China to put on big, fancy and very expensive mega summits with African leaders like FOCAC that will take place in Beijing in September. Facing a slowing economy and a potentially devast ...…
 
With the Forum on China Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) summit now just weeks away, international press coverage of the event is now ramping up. Over the past several weeks, Eric & Cobus have done a number of interviews with journalists around the world about what to expect at the upcoming summit and a few discernable themes that emerged from their ...…
 
W. Gyude Moore, Liberia’s former Minister of Public Works, recognizes that African countries are taking a huge risk by piling on ever-larger amounts of Chinese debt, but he thinks it’s worth it if the new roads, bridges and industrial parks can help spark economic growth needed to employ the continent’s bulging population of young people. Gyude ...…
 
The opening of China's first overseas military base located in Djibouti is the most visible example of China's expanded security interests in Africa. However, behind the scenes, Chinese officials are moving to expand their relationships with African militaries across the continent. Earlier this summer, 50 African military leaders spent two week ...…
 
This September 50 African leaders will arrive in Beijing for what is widely expected to be one of the most important international summits of the year. Billions of dollars in financial aid and loans along with China's broader strategic direction for the continent will be unveiled at the Forum on China Africa Cooperation leaders summit. But the ...…
 
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