China in Africa: A China-bashing backlash

In 2008, China replaced the US as Africa’s largest trading partner, with the volume of trade reaching $107bn, representing a tenfold increase since 2000.

With foreign direct investment rising from $491m in 2003 to $100bn in 2009, a twentyfold increase during the past decade alone, China is now not only Africa’s single largest source of low-interest capital, but also–given tariff reduction–its most equitable trading partner.

That from African Business magazine. Meanwhile, Deborah Brautigam tones down the China-Africa hyperbole in Foreign Affairs:

Over the past few decades, China has managed to move hundreds of millions of its people out of poverty by combining state intervention with economic incentives to attract private investment — the kind of experimentation that the Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping once described as “crossing the river by feeling the stones.”

Today, China is feeling the stones again but this time in its economic engagement across Africa. Its current experiment in Africa mixes a hard-nosed but clear-eyed self-interest with the lessons of China’s own successful development and of decades of its failed aid projects in Africa.

If you’re interested in China in Africa, Nic van de Walle recommends a new volume.

2 thoughts on “China in Africa: A China-bashing backlash

  1. Whoa Nelly. The statistics quoted in “African Business” are way off. China’s trade is growing fast, but as of 2008 it was still smaller than US trade with Africa: $107b compared with $124b (both sets include North Africa). China’s figures for FDI stocks in Africa were indeed $491m, but only rose to $7.8b in 2008. Figures for 2009 have not been released. Chris, if you’re interested in more efforts to “tone down the hyperbole” see Chapter 6 on how much aid does China really give to Africa, and Chapter 11 on myths and realities in my new book: The Dragon’s Gift, the Real Story of China in Africa (Oxford University Press).

  2. Mr. Blattman,
    The book you mention at the end of the post is that new at all. I went through a long time ago more than 1.5 years ago to that matter. One article stands out – the one written by Elizabeth Pupp who argues that China and Africa are experiencing a post-colonial interdependency. Very good theory.
    Now I’m more curious about Deborah Brautigam’s recent book “Dragon’s Gift”. But the guys from Amazon are very slow at getting the books in stock.