Week 7: Emerging Powers: China in Africa/Africa in China

The main focus of the readings this week is on the multi-faceted, complex relationship between Africa and China and the history behind its development. The article by Paul Tiyambe Zeleza The Africa-China Relationship: Challenges and Opportunities, examines the economic side of this relationship beginning with a historical account of its formation dating back to the fifteenth century, which touches on a series of phases that have led to how it is characterized today. Throughout his discussion, Zeleza sheds light on the many differing opinions regarding this relationship, demonstrating how critics including scholars, activists, and media outlets, have put a negative spin on this situation arguing that it is based on colonial principles whereby African resources are being exploited by China. However when examined more closely it can be seen that there is a mutual exchange taking place between Africa and China that is overlooked. This is due to the difference in foreign aid structures in China compared to those employed by Western states. In regards to trade investments it is evident that there needs to be greater enforcement of laws and monitoring capabilities on the behalf of Africa and the practice of mutual benefits from China in order for this relationship to become a true partnership as Zeleza argues.

The second article by Chris Alden and Ana Alves called History and Identity in the Construction of China’s Africa Policy, also analyzes Africa and China relations through a historical context of the development of “China’s Africa Policy” and how identities have played a role in shaping the relationship. Alden and Alves discuss China’s self-conception of its identity as a developing country as a result of its colonial past and desires for increased development. This discourse that is being used by foreign policy makers in regards to identity and goals of establishing a partnership and solidarity with Africa emphasizes China’s ability to be dependable sources of development to Africa because of their historical similarities and relations.

The third article by Adams Bodomo and Grace Ma called From Guangzhou to Yiwu: Emerging Facets of the African Diaspora in China, takes on a different perspective than the previous articles by examining African diasporas in China to evaluate the social settings of the Africa and China relationship. Due to the vastly large and emerging commodities market in China and the overall more professional business experience, many Africans have migrated to Yiwu to get involved in the trading business. Authors Bodomo and Ma argue that in order for this relationship to remain harmonious both governments to arrange immigration laws that are racially tolerant, allow for adequate working living conditions, and freedom of movement.

Each of these articles have touched upon many interesting and important aspects of the relationship between China and Africa, emphasizing the complexity behind how such relations have come to be. They have also led to some questions that should not be overlooked such as: who are the direct beneficiaries of foreign aid from China? Do rural communities receive the same benefits and treatment as urban regions? Who are the critics and supporters of the relationship between Africa and China within these nations, and how are they connected to such relations?

M. Singlehurst – 120372730

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