The Honeymoon between China and Africa Is Over and That’s a Good Thing

A China in Africa Podcast

It wasn’t that long ago when it was all smiles between the Chinese and Africans. The headlines were all about “win-win” development, China’s role in helping Africa to rise above its colonial past, and investment—lots and lots of Chinese investment. Every year, trade between the two would surge to new, record highs. Those were indeed good days.

Now, things are different. A seemingly never-ending slump in commodity and oil prices is taking its toll on Africa’s export-reliant economies, prompting fears of a new, devastating debt crisis. Chinese trade and investment in Africa are also slowing as China undergoes a profound economic transformation from a manufacturing-led economy to one driven by services and consumption.

In many parts of Africa, the Chinese are encountering new challenges: the violent conflicts ravaging parts of North Africa are embroiling Chinese peacekeepers, Chinese civilians have been the victims of terrorism, and the Chinese are reportedly becoming less and less popular on the continent.

While none of this sounds encouraging, a growing number of international policy analysts suggest this may actually be a very important step in the China-Africa relationship, because better policies could emerge from these difficulties. Jonathan S. Paris is one of those observers who is researching the rapidly changing Sino-African geopolitical landscape as part of a multi-year study entitled “The Future of China in Africa 2035.”

Jonathan is an accomplished global affairs scholar with expertise in the Middle East and Southeast Asia. He is an Associate Fellow at the International Centre for the Study of Radicalization at King’s College London and a Senior Advisor to the Chertoff Group in Washington, D.C. He is also a member of Chatham House in London and the Council on Foreign Relations in the United States. Jonathan joins Eric and Cobus to discuss his current research and why moving on from the Sino-African honeymoon may not be such a bad thing.