Week 7: China in Africa/Africa in China

Africa-China relationships have experienced dramatic growth through recent decades and in the article The Africa-China relationship: challenges and opportunities, Zeleza explores the factors behind the development of these relations through economic growth and the challenges and opportunities associated with both regions. He critiques the lack of knowledge and narrative around the more complex reality of Africa’s relationship with China and emphasizes their deeply rooted history throughout a time of major changes in the global political economy. This article takes an optimistic view of China’s involvement within Africa and their recognition of Africa as a profitable investment, while at the same time giving African countries an alternative ideology to Western imperialist reflexes. He also provides insight on the unequal bilateral relationship of China with 54 countries of the African continent. I found this to be interesting because it touches on the importance of Africa establishing their own interests and development goals in order to ensure economic stability and emergence in the global economy. As long as China is involved in Africa, do you think it is possible for Africa to act collectively in articulating their interests to ensure self-determination and sustainable development?

         History & Identity in the Construction of China’s Africa Policy written by Alden and Alves examines China’s historical approach in establishing a contemporary relationship with Africa. China became a leading developing country after their self-proclaimed foreign policy, and their foreign policy aims in Africa have been products of wider international aims, for example the cold war. What I found very important here was the necessity to take into consideration the historical implication of China Africa relations and how past experiences, relationships and other factors are determinant of their relationship. China is not solely interested in the exploitation of African resources and Alden and Alves highlight that calling upon history, in an increasingly economic relationship, reassures the Chinese lack of interest in exploitation or Chinese colonialism. Do you think that China’s historical relationship with Africa is legitimate to ensure that they will not exploit African economy, or do you feel as though it could be seen as just a useful tool in establishing trust?

The final article we read for this week was From Guangzhou to Yiwu: Emerging facets of the African Diaspora in China written by Bodomo and Ma. This article was interesting because it focuses on Africans and their receptions in cities throughout China. Since a lot of research and academic studies surround the Chinese city of Guangzhou, their focus is on the city of Yiwu and its rising market and large commodities. The commodities market is very large and the trade market is continually growing. The interview with Wufei stuck out to me because we have read a lot about China in Africa, but it was good to hear about an African who is experiencing such success in Chinese markets and in their cities. I also found it surprising that because there were fewer Africans in Yiwu, they were treated with more respect and civility than in Guangzhou whose immigration laws cracked down after the 2008 Olympics. Is it plausible to assume that if Yiwu continues to develop into an international trade centre, the African population within the city will experience similar discrimination and interrogation as those in Guangzhou?

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