A Journalist’s View on Reporting the China-Africa Story

Eric Olander, Cobus van Staden & more
The U.S.-based online news site Quartz is among a growing number of international media companies that is investing resources to better cover Africa. The company launched Quartz Africa in June 2015 with the opening of a new bureau in Nairobi and the...

Challenging the Myth of Chinese Land Grabs in Africa

Eric Olander, Cobus van Staden & more
Among the most durable myths surrounding the China-Africa relationship is the fear that the Chinese government and private enterprises are buying vast tracts of African farm land and have plans to transplant millions of Chinese peasants to live and...

What to Expect at this Year’s Mega China-Africa Summit

Eric Olander, Cobus van Staden & more
The sixth Forum on China Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) that will be held in December in Johannesburg comes at a critical time in the Sino-African relationship. The combination of China’s slowing economy, a major slump in global commodity prices, and a...

China’s Risky Oil Strategy in Africa’s Sahel Region

Eric Olander, Cobus van Staden & more
Chad is one of the poorest, most corrupt, and, increasingly, most volatile countries in Africa. A recent wave of suicide bombings, allegedly orchestrated by Boko Haram, killing 36 and injuring 50, highlights the perilous challenges of doing business...

Are the Good Times Over for China and Africa?

Eric Olander, Cobus van Staden & more
One of the prevailing media narratives of China’s recent economic turmoil is the effect that it could have on emerging markets, particularly in Africa. Now that the Chinese economy is showing real signs of slowing, the story goes, Beijing will soon...

How China’s Economic Slowdown Will Impact Africa

Eric Olander & Cobus van Staden
The tremors in China’s faltering economy are being felt across Africa. Now that China has replaced Europe and the United States as most African countries’ largest trading partner, there is understandable concern that slowing demand in the P.R.C...

The News Media’s Mixed Record in Covering China-Africa Ties

Eric Olander, Cobus van Staden & more
News organizations from across Africa and around the world are devoting more resources to covering China’s engagement on the continent. The overall quantity of coverage has undoubtedly increased over the past decade. The key question, though, is...

Growing Demand in China for Africa’s Lion Bones

Eric Olander & Cobus van Staden
Traditional Chinese medicine—popular throughout Asia—long has prized the supposed medicinal value of tiger bones. Now, though, as the world’s wild tiger population is disappearing fast, even facing extinction, the Chinese medicine industry may have...

South Africa’s Inexplicable Love Affair with China

Eric Olander, Cobus van Staden & more
While the recent economic turmoil in China is prompting a number of African countries to reconsider their growing economic dependence on the People’s Republic of China, not so in South Africa. Both the government and the ruling African National...

The China Economy: What Lessons for Africa?

Eric Olander, Cobus van Staden & more
When African policy makers scan the globe in search of inspiration on how to structure their economies, that search often leads to Beijing. Not surprisingly, African leaders look at what China has done over the past 30 years where it went from being...

Chinese Investment in Africa: Surprisingly Small, but Growing Fast

Eric Olander, Cobus van Staden & more
It’s a widespread misconception that just because China is Africa’s top trading partner, it’s also the continent’s largest foreign investor. In fact, China ranks seventh overall in FDI, far behind the United States, long Africa’s largest source of...

China’s Special Economic Zones in Africa: Lots of Hype, Little Hope

Eric Olander, Cobus van Staden & more
A decade ago, China announced it would develop of a series of Special Economic Zones (SEZs) in Africa to boost trade and industrialization. Given the phenomenal success of China’s SEZs that helped to spark the PRC’s three decades of history-making...

China’s Role in Africa’s ‘Looting Machine’

Eric Olander, Cobus van Staden & more
China goes to great lengths to differentiate its engagement in Africa from the continent’s former European colonizers by emphasizing so-called “win-win development.” Chinese leaders regularly visit Africa where they emphatically reject the...

U.S. Not Concerned About Chinese Competition in Africa ... But It Probably Should Be

Eric Olander & Cobus van Staden
The difference between U.S. and Chinese foreign policies in Africa was on stark display in July when president Barack Obama made his landmark visits to Kenya and Ethiopia. The president brought along with him a vast agenda that transcended trade,...

A Kenyan Columnist’s Provocative Views on the Chinese in Africa

Eric Olander, Cobus van Staden & more
In Mark Kapchanga’s view, the West, particularly the media, really does not understand what the Chinese are doing in Africa. Kapchanga, a provocative Nairobi-based journalist and columnist, isn’t shy in arguing his case that on balance China’s...

China’s Rapidly Changing Views on Wildlife Conservation in Africa

Eric Olander, Cobus van Staden & more
A dramatic shift in Chinese public opinion about animal welfare and global wildlife conservation appears to be underway. Supported by high-profile celebrity campaigns by NBA legend Yao Ming and actress Li Bing Bing, there is growing awareness in...

China, Africa, and the Indian Ocean: A New Balance of Power

Eric Olander, Cobus van Staden & more
For centuries the Indian Ocean was a vital conduit in the British empire, connecting colonies in South Asia with Africa as part of a vast imperial network. Today, the Indian Ocean once again plays as a vital role in an emerging global trading empire...

China’s Expanding Military Presence in Africa

Eric Olander, Cobus van Staden & more
China is steadily expanding its military footprint in Africa, highlighted by the recent deployment of 700 combat-ready troops to join a multinational peacekeeping operation in South Sudan. In all, the People’s Liberation Army and Navy now have an...

China Starts to Play Nice with Foreign Aid Partners

Eric Olander, Cobus van Staden & more
New research from the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) in China indicates Beijing is starting to be more open about its international aid programs. If so, this would mark a significant change from the past where the Chinese government was...

South Africa Tourism in Crisis as Chinese Reject New Visa Regulations

Eric Olander, Cobus van Staden & more
South Africa’s tourism sector is in crisis as a series of new visa regulations have prompted dramatic falls in arrivals, particularly from the world’s largest source of tourists: China. The number of Chinese visitors to South Africa has plunged a...

China’s Controversial Technology Partnership with South Africa

Eric Olander & Cobus van Staden
The Chinese and South Africa governments have signed a pact, or a “plan of action,” where Beijing will provide a broad array of technology training, skills transfer, and ICT (information and communications technology) development for South Africa’s...

China’s Proposed Ivory Ban: Breakthrough or B.S.?

Eric Olander, Cobus van Staden & more
China’s surprise announcement that it will phase out the trade and manufacturing of ivory came as a rare piece of good news for Africa’s rapidly shrinking elephant population. While most major international wildlife groups welcomed Beijing’s new...

NO! China is NOT Exporting Convict Labor to Africa!!!!

Eric Olander, Cobus van Staden & more
Fifteen minutes into almost any conversation about the Chinese in Africa, the question about Chinese labor invariably comes up. “The Chinese are exporting convicts to work on construction sites,” according to one of the pervasive myths, or, “Chinese...

Chinese Racist Views Towards Blacks and Africans

Eric Olander, Cobus van Staden & more
When riots broke out in the U.S. city of Baltimore in May 2015, the reaction across the Chinese social web was sadly predictable as Internet users posted countless anti-black racist comments. However, what was interesting about their posts is how...

The Dark Side of Chinese Investment in Africa

Eric Olander, Cobus van Staden & more
Sam Pa is a mysterious man, largely unknown to the outside world. Yet Pa, who goes by at least seven different aliases, represents the nefarious side of China’s engagement in Africa. Sam Pa and his associates in the Hong Kong-based consortium known...

A Flash Point in China-Africa Relations Re-Opens in Zambia

Eric Olander, Cobus van Staden & more
When critics of the Chinese in Africa make their case, the Collum coal mine in Zambia is invariably on their list of grievances. The controversial mine has been the site of violent labor disputes that have severely injured, even killed, both...

China Malls Rise Amid Growing Xenophobia in South Africa

Cobus van Staden & Mingwei Huang
Chinese immigrants in South Africa have not been spared from the violent, anti-immigrant riots that have swept across Durban and Johannesburg, two of the country’s largest cities. There have been reports of injuries along with at least 40 business...

China, Africa, and the PRC’s Massive New Development Bank

Eric Olander, Cobus van Staden & more
Fifty-seven countries, including two from Africa, are among the founding members of China’s new development bank, the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB). While the new bank’s primary objective will be to develop infrastructure projects in...

Chinese Cultural Diplomacy in Africa

Eric Olander, Cobus van Staden & more
The Chinese government has spent billions of dollars in Africa on public diplomacy initiatives that are intended to improve the country’s image. Central to that strategy is the growing network of Confucius Institutes (CIs) spread across the...

China’s Controversial Trade in Africa’s Natural Resources

Eric Olander & Cobus van Staden
China often faces blistering criticism for its voracious appetite for Africa’s natural resources. Chinese companies are spread across the continent mining, logging, and fishing to feed both hungry factories and people back home. In most, if not all...

Chinese Dreams and the African Renaissance

Eric Olander, Cobus van Staden & more
Leaders in both China and Africa have articulated new visions for their respective regions that project a strong sense of confidence, renewal, and a break from once-dominant Western ideologies. In both cases, argues East is Read blogger Mothusi...

This Little Bridge Connects Guangzhou and Africa

Eric Olander, Cobus van Staden & more
The southern Chinese city of Guangzhou is home to China’s largest African migrant population, predominantly from Nigeria. In the city’s Little North Road neighborhood there is a small pedestrian bridge where immigrants from all over the world go to...

The Politics of Banning Ivory in China

Eric Olander, Cobus van Staden & more
In February 2015, China announced a one-year ban on ivory imports. While many conservation groups such as the Environmental Investigation Agency denounced Beijing’s policy as “ineffective,” the San Francisco-based group WildAid said the ban is an...

A Chinese Perspective on the #RacistRestaurant Scandal in Kenya

Cobus van Staden & Huang Hongxiang
The Chinese restaurant in Nairobi that barred Africans after 5pm sparked a frenzied week of news coverage on both local and international media and, of course, on Twitter. The actions of this small, inconsequential restaurant seemingly took on much...

Who Knew? Madagascar Has Africa’s Third Largest Chinese Population

Eric Olander, Cobus van Staden & more
The Chinese population on the east African island of Madagascar defies many of the poorly-informed, albeit widely-held, stereotypes about Chinese migrants on the rest of the continent. First, the community in Madagascar isn't small or isolated...

Cameroon Highlights Pros and Cons of Chinese Infrastructure Development

Eric Olander, Cobus van Staden & more
When finished, the new deep-sea port in the southern Cameroonian city of Kribi will likely become a major gateway for all of Central Africa. This will be Cameroon’s only deep-sea port that can accommodate the larger inter-continental trading ships...

The Spy Cables: Chinese Espionage in Africa

Eric Olander & Cobus van Staden
Buried in the trove of secret intelligence documents known as “The Spy Cables” obtained by Al Jazeera and The Guardian is a passing reference to allegations Chinese spies broke into a South African nuclear facility in 2007. Interestingly, this was...

China’s BIG Gamble in the TINY Comoros Islands

Eric Olander, Cobus van Staden & more
Comoros is a tiny archipelago nation off the east coast of Africa in the Indian ocean where a major Chinese experiment is underway. Chinese scientists and pharmaceutical have undertaken a radical experiment to test an unlicensed anti-malarial herbal...

Is Chinese Corporate Behavior Improving in Africa?

Eric Olander, Cobus van Staden & more
The list of grievances against Chinese companies operating in Africa is long and varied, from violations of labor rights to environmental destruction to widespread allegations of corruption. Although it is hard to tell how many companies are truly...

Chinese Studies at the University of Botswana

Eric Olander, Cobus van Staden & more
It’s long been said that while China may have an Africa policy, Africans do not have a China policy. In particular, too many Africans do not understand the language, culture, and politics of their new number one trading partner. The University of...

China’s Mystery Transportation Infrastructure Deal with the African Union

Eric Olander, Cobus van Staden & more
It’s not really news anymore when China announces yet another massive infrastructure construction deal in Africa. Typically these deals are done at the national level, so when Beijing and the African Union signed a major transport infrastructure MOU...

Flash of Anti-Chinese Xenophobia in the DR Congo

Eric Olander, Cobus van Staden & more
Anti-government protestors filled the streets of the Democratic Republic of the Congo capital Kinshasa on January 19 and 20 to protest against a new election law making its way through the National Assembly. The new law calls for a national census...

We’re Not Building an Empire

Eric Olander & Cobus van Staden
There is a custom in Chinese diplomacy that the Foreign Minister’s first overseas trip of the year always begins in Africa. This year was no exception, as Wang Yi led a high-profile tour of five African states including Kenya, Sudan, the DR Congo,...

South Africa: China’s BFF in Africa

Eric Olander, Cobus van Staden & more
South Africa is emerging as one of China’s most important international partners as the relationship deepens across all levels. Economically, South Africa is the source of more Chinese investment than any other country on the continent. However,...

Religion Among African Immigrants in China

Eric Olander & Cobus van Staden
Nestled in apartments and offices throughout the southern Chinese city of Guangzhou are dozens of improvised churches that cater to the region’s Pentacostal Africans, largely from Nigeria. These churches not only serve the community’s religious...

From ‘Made in China’ to ‘Made in Africa’

Eric Olander & Cobus van Staden
A growing number of Chinese companies are looking to outsource production overseas in a bid to lower costs and meet Beijing’s increasingly stringent environmental laws. Ethiopia and South Africa are among the beneficiaries of this new trend as...

China in Africa: 2014 Year in Review

Eric Olander & Cobus van Staden
Two thousand fourteen marked another landmark year in Sino-African relations as bilateral trade set new records while political, diplomatic, and military ties strengthened across the board. Yet despite the tangible progress made this year, this...

Who Are the Chinese in Africa?

Eric Olander, Cobus van Staden & more
Some say the number of Chinese in Africa now exceeds one million people; some even go as high as two million. Although no one has a precise accounting of just how many Chinese migrants now live on the continent, there is no doubt their numbers are...

The BRICS Bank: China’s Drive to Shake Up Development Finance

Eric Olander, Cobus van Staden & more
Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa (aka the ‘BRICS’) are moving forward with an ambitious plan to shake up the clubby world of development finance. The new BRICS bank announced over the summer 2014 is expected to have a profound impact on...

A Career in China-Africa Research

Eric Olander, Cobus van Staden & more
Dr. Yoon Jung Park is among the most well-known Sino-Africa scholars in the field. Park has taught and done research on China-African affairs for over 20 years at universities in both the U.S. and Africa. Now based in Washington, D.C., where she co-...

Report: Chinese Diplomats & Officials Tied to Ivory Trade in Africa

Eric Olander, Cobus van Staden & more
A recent report by the U.K.-based Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) alleges Chinese diplomats and officials have been directly involved in the ivory trade in Africa. Most damaging, the EIA reports that even some members of visiting Chinese...

China’s Booming Africa Trade in Torture Devices

Eric Olander, Cobus van Staden & more
Amnesty International and the Omega Research Foundation recently published a new report that alleges China is selling hundreds of millions of dollars in so-called "torture tools" to African governments. Despite mounting evidence these...

Love & Hate: Michael Sata’s Complex Relationship with China

Eric Olander, Cobus van Staden & more
Few figures defined China's early engagement more than Zambia's late president Michael Sata. As as opposition leader, the man known as the "King Cobra" was among Beijing's most vocal critics in Zambia but later, once in...

Chinese Corporations in Africa: Saints or Sinners?

Eric Olander, Cobus van Staden & more
“The African way of life is under attack by Chinese corporations,” argues University of Technology, Sydney doctoral candidate Onjumi Okumu. The Kenya native contends that a combination of weak governance in African mixed with no legal restraints on...

The Dalai Lama Forces China to Overplay its Hand in South Africa

Eric Olander & Cobus van Staden
Pretoria’s apparent refusal to grant Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama a visa to attend a summit of Nobel peace laureates has sparked outrage in South Africa. Critics allege the government is bowing to China, undermining South African...

‘China Halts Arms Sales to South Sudan’ (Wait, What?)

Eric Olander & Cobus van Staden
In June, China’s ambassador to Juba, Ma Qiang, publicly declared that Beijing would not sell weapons to any side of the ongoing civil conflict in South Sudan. So it was a bit of a surprise when it was discovered that $38 million of weapons had been...

China and ‘The Battle for Africa’

Eric Olander, Cobus van Staden & more
Al Jazeera stands alone among the major international news channels in its regular coverage of the Chinese in Africa. In the network’s latest documentary released in September 2014, veteran Sierra Leonean journalist Sorious Samura hosts “The Battle...

Ebola Crisis in West Africa: Fair to Compare U.S. and China Aid?

Eric Olander & Cobus van Staden
When the ebola crisis first struck West Africa, China was among the only major powers to not only keep its personnel in the affected countries but to also send tens of millions of dollars in badly needed aid. The U.S., by contrast, was visibly...

Sam Pa, China’s Mysterious Middleman in Africa

Eric Olander, Cobus van Staden & more
Publicly, China's engagement in Africa is purportedly based on “mutual benefit” or, as Chinese officials like to phrase it “win win.” Behind the scenes, though, it's a little more complicated. Many of those multibillion-dollar natural...

Mugabe Critic: Zimbabwe’s ‘Old Friend’ China is Bleeding it Dry

Eric Olander, Cobus van Staden & more
Harare-based economist and columnist Vince Musewe doesn’t mince words in his criticism of Zimbabwe’s growing financial dependence. Beijing is “bleeding Zimbabwe dry” through loans and Musewe says enough is enough. He is calling on Robert Mugabe’s...