Should the West fear China’s growing influence on the African continent? While there is no question that China and Chinese companies are changing the way African politicians seek aid and investment, the relationship between the two sides is far more complicated than simple narratives about “democracy or dictatorship” or “trade not aid” suggest. Veteran journalist Howard W. French explores this complexity in his book, “China’s Second Continent: How a Million Migrants are Building a New Empire in Africa.” He graciously took the time to answer my questions about the book and China’s role in Africa.
LS: Much of the discourse in American politics is that the U.S. should be afraid of China’s role in Africa because China is undemocratic or “trying to take over.” Is this a fair approach? Why or why not?
HF: I’m afraid the American discourse on China and Africa is very confused and generally not very insightful. Part of that is driven by the recent, still startled realization in this society of just how serious a competitor China is becoming, and part of that reflects the baggage of very old and nearly immutable American attitudes toward Africa, which are bound up in paternalism and in using Africa as a kind of vanity mirror to help us brighten our own self-image and feel better about ourselves…
Is ‘China in Africa’ something to fear? – The Washington Post
July 7, 2015