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The China Africa Project

Eric Olander & Cobus van Staden

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The China Africa Project is a multimedia resource dedicated to exploring every aspect of China’s growing engagement with Africa. Through a combination of original content and curation of third-party material from across the Internet, the CAP’s objective is purely informational. None of the blog’s authors or producers have any vested interest in any Chinese or African position.
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For much of the past ten years, Chinese technology in Africa focused largely on devices and infrastructure. But today, the conversations also include issues related to governance, online services, and the emergence of artificial intelligence.Benjamin Dada, founder of the popular African tech news site BenDada.com, joins Eric to discuss the latest C…
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Few topics have shaped perceptions about China's engagement in Africa more than the presence of Chinese construction sites across the continent. Chinese contractors have built countless ports, roads, railways, and more, but how that work was done has been very controversial over the years.There've been widespread complaints about mismanagement, abu…
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Former Cambodian strongman Hun Sen was in Beijing last week lobbying the Chinese government to move forward with the $1.7 billion Funan Techo Canal project which his son, President Hun Manet, has made the centerpiece of his new administration.The new canal would connect Phnom Penh's inland port to Kep province on the Gulf of Thailand, creating a ne…
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While many in the West still contend Africa's worsening debt crisis is largely due to excessive Chinese lending, Tsinghua University Professor Tang Xiaoyang argues that accusation just isn't true. Instead, the well-known China-Africa scholar contends the main problems facing African borrowers today are anchored in the United States. Most of Africa'…
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Enthusiasm for electric vehicles is waning in both the U.S. and China, but that is definitely not the case in other parts of the world where EV adoption rates are steadily rising. In fact, at the Bangkok Motor Show this week, Chinese EV brands are grabbing all of the attention.Throughout the Global South, Chinese EV brands are expanding their prese…
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Angolan President João Lourenço returned from a three-day visit to China loaded with goodies. He secured an upgrade in diplomatic ties, promises of new investment and, most importantly, a major reduction in monthly debt payments.Lourenço's success in China comes as Luanda is also luring massive engagement from the U.S., prompting some observers to …
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U.S. and European officials often lament that they've fallen behind China when it comes to engaging Africa, Asia, the Americas, and other developing regions. Western governments aren't set up to rapidly deploy the kind of money and resources that Beijing's done with its Belt and Road Initiative over the past ten years.While the U.S. and Europe are …
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Angolan President João Lourenço kicked off a three-day visit to China this week that will take him to Beijing and Shandong Province. The timing of Lourenço’s trip comes as the Chinese economy is facing enormous challenges amid a plunge in FDI, surging youth unemployment, and much slower growth.Gyude Moore from the Center for Global Development in W…
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Over the past 20 years, tens of thousands of kilometers of new railway lines have been built across Africa - much of it constructed and financed by China. But the days when Beijing paid big bucks to build these kinds of large-scale infrastructure projects in Africa have come to an end.Today, China's development priorities on the continent are focus…
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The failure of G20 countries last month to agree on a plan to triple renewable energy capacity by 2030 highlights a key problem in the ongoing debate over how to respond to climate change: the institutions that are designed to help solve this problem are failing.It's not clear what China's role was in that debate at the G20 but elsewhere Beijing's …
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The once lifeless BRICS bloc got a big boost of energy this week with the addition of six new members including two additional African states from Egypt and Ethiopia. Together, African countries will now account for nearly a third of the 11-member group -- far more than any other international multilateral organization.The announcement to enlarge t…
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China's critics contend the Belt and Road Initiative is dead or dying due to a mix of gross mismanagement and hubris. The data, however, reveals a very different story. While lending has definitely decreased considerably from its peak in 2016, the BRI is very much alive -- it just looks very different today than it did even a few years ago.Instead …
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The Chinese Foreign Ministry confirmed President Xi Jinping will travel to South Africa to attend the upcoming BRICS summit, the first time he'll visit Africa since 2018. Xi will be joined by three other of the group's leaders along with Russian President Vladimir Putin who will attend remotely.The two main priorities at this year's gathering will …
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For much of the past 20 years, China sought to radically expand its presence beyond its traditional spheres of influence to new regions in Africa, the Americas, and the Middle East. China lent billions to countries in these regions and devoted considerable diplomatic capital to building political influence there as well.But now, in this new era of …
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The days of China easily handing out billions of dollars to build infrastructure in developing countries around the world are now over. The Chinese can't afford it anymore and many of the borrowing countries just don't have the capacity to take on more debt.But that doesn't mean the Chinese aren't lending anymore. They are. It's just that the proje…
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While many countries around the world, particularly G7 states, have largely outlawed the use of Chinese surveillance technology made by companies like Huawei, ZTE, and Hikvision among others, that is not the case in Africa. Dozens of governments across the continent have installed so-called "Smart City" initiatives that use networked camera systems…
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For 70+ years, development economists have been touting the idea that if lesser developed countries trade and invest collaboratively, it would serve as a pathway out of poverty. But today, the notion of so-called South-South cooperation is facing unprecedented challenges as developing countries confront a series of converging economic, health, and …
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China is one of the very few truly bipartisan issues in Washington today where there is near unanimous consensus that the U.S. must work to counter Beijing's growing influence around the world, especially in developing countries.The problem is that there is much less agreement on what the U.S. should actually do to respond to the China challenge.Da…
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In the old days, a small group of Kenyan elites dominated the business of importing low-cost products from China that they would then turn around and sell for two or three times the cost. But that once-lucrative business is now under threat from Chinese merchants who sell the same products at a lower price direct to consumers, cutting out those Ken…
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PLA Navy warships facilitated China's third major evacuation from a war-ravaged MENA country this week when two vessels ferried more than a thousand Chinese and Pakistani nationals to safety. Chinese state media glorified the evacuations using music and language that echoed recent blockbuster movies about the government's heroism in rescuing strand…
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The U.S. and China are waging a hard-fought battle today for dominance of global technology standards, particularly in emerging sectors like 5G mobile telecommunications. While China's access to markets in advanced economies is increasingly limited, tech companies like Huawei, ZTE, and Bytedance are rapidly expanding in the Global South.But the U.S…
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When China announced in March that it had brokered a landmark agreement between Iran and Saudi Arabia to restore diplomatic ties, it took a lot of people by surprise. They just didn't see it coming.But now, a month later, it appears that the deal is solid. Just last week, the foreign ministers from both countries reconvened in Beijing to finalize t…
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While Vice President Kamala Harris worked hard to keep the focus on U.S.-Africa relations during her recent tour of the continent, reporters in the traveling press corps kept bringing up China -- much to the chagrin of her hosts in Ghana, Tanzania, and Zambia.But unlike previous high-level U.S. visits where African leaders politely side-stepped que…
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Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and Malaysian Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim both wrapped up state visits to China last week and their discussions with President Xi Jinping revealed some fascinating linkages between contemporary Chinese foreign policy objectives and Beijing's historical perception of its role as Asia's central power.Antoin…
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One week after a brutal attack on a Chinese mining site in the Central African Republic (CAR) that killed nine people and injured two others, it's still not clear who is responsible and why they did it. All Chinese personnel in the country have been ordered to evacuate remote areas and those in the capital Bangui are sheltering in place.Meantime, C…
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