Week 7

The central theme of the three articles is on the relationship between Africa and China with a particular emphasis on the economic sector.

The Africa-China relationship: challenges and opportunities

Paul Tiyambe explores the relationship between China and Africa as it contains long history and rapid growth in recent decades. The author discusses four different phases that the relationship has been through which ultimately displays its nature of complexity. Firstly, the relationship between the two countries has evolved as time passed and undergone many phases within this phase. Secondly, it encompasses economical, political, cultural, social and strategic dimensions that deal with their own separate complications and contradictions. Thirdly, the relationship developed along with other major changes that occurred in the global political economy. And lastly, the author advises about the importance to note when considering 54 countries in Africa with one country, China. Every country in Africa has its own relationship with China but collaboratively, they are still not strong enough to compete with China.

One of the main focuses of the article was on China’s economic investment in Africa. It is a breath of fresh air to know that the Chinese took a different path than the Americans, whereby they were willing to work with domestic leaders instead of imposing their views on them. We always learn in Global Studies that the best way to approach and build strong institutions is by integrating local knowledge and involving locals in decision-making processes in order to work out policies that are suitable to their culture. The Chinese also made a smart move by investing in neglected regions, which created a competitive edge against Western and other local African enterprises.

History & Identity in the Construction of China’s Africa Policy

The focus of this article by Chris Alden and Ana Cristina Alves is on the construction of China’s Africa policy based on history as it contains societal values. I do not necessarily agree with this strategy because as mentioned in this article and the previous one, the Chinese and Africans have been through different phases as their economies evolved. Contemporary ties are based on economic interests only, and it is evident that when wanting to succeed in a foreign market, political, cultural and societal factors need to be considered. Therefore, to strictly place policies that align with historical patterns will probably result to failure as more local and international actors enter the market increasing the nature of competition even more.

From Guangzhou to Yiwu: Emerging Facets of the African Diaspora in China

Adams Bodomo and Grace Ma approach the relationship between China and Africa from a different position in comparison to the authors from the first two articles. They focus on the treatment of Africans in the Chinese economy and the establishment of businesses there. In particular, they discuss how Africans are received in Yiwi and Guangzhou, which are two commodities market in China. The city of Yiwi developed from a small village to the world’s largest commodities market. Africans are treated very well there as opposed to Guangzhou. Among other community bonding activities and trading, life in Yiwi for Africans consist of acceptance of cultural and religious differences. In Guangzhou however, discrimination exists between the treatment of Arab Africans and black Africans, as well as, black Africans often have trouble with their visa renewals and also receive confusing directions from them.

I enjoyed reading this article the most as it notes in depth, the movement and establishment of Africans in a globalized place like China. Most of the literature that exists today discuss the impact foreigners have on African economy and cultural spaces, and never the other way around. Although I wish the authors talked more about how Yiwi came to be this successful today.

Questions:

  1. Can the involvement of Chinese businesses in the economies of African countries potentially benefit locals or are different approaches taken by these business leaders simply a strategy to establish themselves in a foreign economy and ultimately gain trust?
  2. Is history in the Chinese-African relationship the most important tool that needs to be implemented in order to create policies that align with contemporary, emerging markets in Africa?

Arpita Biswas: 110342830

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