The book “China Returns to Africa: A Superpower and a Continent Embrace” provides in-depth account of Chinese-African relations. The central claim of the book is that geopolitical relations between Africa and China has provoked international interests as China remains one of the most promising and powerful states in the world. The editors have assembled 24 essays by academics that possess exceptional knowledge with the purpose to shed light on the unexpected Chinese-African operations.
The chapters address diverse subjects as, for example, social influence of Chinese Diaspora in Africa, the history of Tanzanian railway, the history of Chinese medicine, the progress of Beijing in buying oil and natural resources, the breadth of African continent, etc. The book presents a balanced impressive study of the most important developments in the modern worlds, as Chinese-African relations will affect economics and politics of all countries. In 2006 China celebrated a new strategic partnership.
The interest of China in African continent has raised a number of debates as researches found it interesting to reveal what China expects from Africa. However, academic and development policy circles neglect country’s re-engagement with the African continent. In contrast to Europe and America, China treats Africa equally, not as inferior country. With the help of China Africa is viewed to be able to establish business deal with Western countries. In the late 1960s China made a decisive ideological thrust into the African continent and was humiliated for that by the rest of the world’s powerful countries and Africa itself.
The painful experience of Mao’s men prevented further relations with Africa for about 40 years. The economic wreck was contributed to China’s disastrous experiments with socialism. A new invasion of Africa began in the past 15 years. New effort appeared to be more pragmatic and was driven mainly by a quest for new energy sources and new raw materials. Economic invasion was backed up by country’s huge wealth and, therefore, its implication was more likely to be far-reaching than the last Maoist adventure.
Western powers were prompted to corresponding alarm as they were unaware what to expect from Chinese-African relations. The book notes that more than 800 Chinese companies have invested more than ? 5 billion in economic development of African countries and there is more to come. The editors admit in introduction that “China’s expanding relations with Africa are the most important dynamic in the foreign relations and politics of the continent since the end of the cold war”. (Alden et al.
, 2008, ii) In particular, China offers African continent three things – money, long-term commitment and assurance of non-inference. Money offered accounted for larger sums that offered by western competitors and assurance of non-inference means that human rights won’t be troubled by Chinese lifestyle in contrast to European and American countries to impose their beliefs and policies within the continent. Thus, local dignitaries of African continent will remain original. Further, one of the chapters addresses the important of media in Chinese-African relations as media is the fourth power in the world.
It is noted that Chinese media presents future of Chinese-African relations in different way from that of western reports and prophesies. Chinese partnership has expanded in Senegal, Mauritius and Cape Verde. Chinese traders are restoring the infrastructure in Angola. China buys cobalt from Congo and South Africa; feed from Ethiopia, Tanzania and Sudan; copper from South Africa and Zambia; chemicals from Nigeria; ferrous metals from Zimbabwe; and oil from everywhere. Angola has become China’s biggest supplier.
The authors assess the costs and benefits of China’s re-engagement into African continent. On the one side, the prices are boosted by the increased competition for commodities. The West seems to be troubled about the Chinese imperialism because many of the trade practices have been commonplace among the European and American companies. Many countries simply tended to get out of Africa without investing in it. In contrast, China offers new scope of economic relations through equal treatment.
Nevertheless, the poorest people in Africa would hardly benefit from Chinese-African relations as reliance on capital-intensive commodity industries is not effective way to fight poverty. The problem is that Chinese money goes into the pockets of Africa’s elites and into Swiss banks. The editors cite a spokesman of the Kenyan government who argues: “You never hear the Chinese saying that they will not finish a project because the government has not done enough to tackle corruption. If they are going to build a road, it will be built”.
(Alden et al. , 2008, 23) Some authors are more skeptic about the future of the Chinese-African relations. They argue that with years the issue of ‘governance’ can’t be escaped as governance is the pre-condition of stable economic relationships and economic development. China is argued to suffer from lack of spiritual dimension in the countries practicing Christianity, Islam and other indigenous systems of beliefs. Overall, the book is very informative presenting multiple perspectives on development of Chinese-African relations.
The authors offer far-reaching surveys of China’s return to the African continent. The new relations are assumed to hold for diplomacy, trade and further development. The authors are surely correct in their efforts to refuse taking high morale line about what China is willing to get from Africa. The positive is that China tends to treat Africa as equal partner, whereas Europe treated Africa as inferior state. Africa should be provided with more respect, the country should be provided with opportunity to decide what it wants and what it doesn’t want.
With China, Africa may be able to strengthen its economic and political position in the world. Nevertheless, the negative is that China may tend to impose its own beliefs and governance similar to European countries. Development of Chinese-African relations depends fully on country’s abilities to cooperate. BIBLIOGRAPHY Alden, Chr. , Large, D. , & de Oliviera, R. , ed. China Returns to Africa: A Superpower and a Continent Embrace. USA: Hurst & Co Publishers LTD, 2008.