The China Africa Project is an independent, non-partisan 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 Project’s objective is purely informational and none of its contributors have any vested interest in any financial, political, or ideological position.

Donkey Skin Is the New Ivory

Eric Olander, Cobus van Staden & more
Countries throughout Africa are struggling to figure out how to contain the skyrocketing price of donkeys due to surging demand for the animals in China. Donkey skin is fast becoming an increasingly prized commodity due to its use in a traditional...

Is China a Partner or Predator in Africa (or Both)?

Eric Olander, Cobus van Staden & more
In this week’s episode of the China in Africa podcast, Matt Ferchen from the Carnegie-Tsinghua Center for Global Policy in Beijing joins Eric and Cobus to discuss his new paper on the perception gaps that exist around the world regarding China’s...

Africa to Pivot to China as U.S. Support Fades Under Trump

Eric Olander, Cobus van Staden & more
In this episode, international economist Anzetwe Were joins Eric and Cobus from Nairobi to discuss her recent column in Business Daily (Kenya) on how Africa is bracing for a Trump-inspired shift towards to China in response to the new U.S. president...

How China’s Insatiable Demand for Timber Threatens Congo’s Rainforests

Eric Olander, Cobus van Staden & more
In this episode, award-winning Shanghai-based environmental journalist Shi Yi joins Eric and Cobus to discuss the emerging crisis over the illegal trade of Congolese bloodwood. She recently reported on how surging demand in China is fueling...

Chinese Tourism to Africa Is Up, but Travel Companies Are Wary

Eric Olander, Cobus van Staden & more
Africa is becoming an increasingly popular holiday destination among adventure-seeking Chinese tourists. The number of visitors who went to Africa in 2016 was up sharply due to looser visa restrictions and new direct flights between China and...

How Taiwan Became a Divisive Political Issue in South Africa

Eric Olander, Cobus van Staden & more
South Africa’s opposition party, the Democratic Alliance (DA), now sees the ruling African National Congress (ANC) party’s close ties to China as a vulnerability that the DA aims to exploit. Evidence of this new strategy came in December when the DA...

How Donald Trump Could Give China a Real Boost in Africa

Eric Olander, Cobus van Staden & more
The election of Donald Trump has introduced a new era of uncertainty in global politics, especially in Africa where the U.S. president-elect has said nothing about his foreign policy agenda for the continent. Not surprisingly, Trump’s unpredictable...

2016 China-Africa Year in Review

Eric Olander & Cobus van Staden
After years of relatively trouble-free development, 2016 marked a turning point in the China-Africa relationship, amid turbulent changes in the global economic and political order. China increased its deployment of combat troops to the continent,...

China’s Risky Power Play in the Arab World

Eric Olander, Cobus van Staden & more
International Relations Professor Zaynab El Bernoussi from Al Akhawayn University in Ifrane, Morocco, joins Eric and Cobus this week to discuss her recent column on China’s growing influence in the Middle East and North Africa. Professor El...

Does One Man in China Control the Fate of Africa’s Elephants?

Eric Olander, Cobus van Staden & more
In the powerful new Netflix documentary The Ivory Game, Elephant Action League Executive Director Andrea Crosta ominously warned that the entire fate of Africa’s elephants is in the hands of a single man, Chinese President Xi Jinping. Only President...

How Rwanda Attracts Chinese Money and Migrants Without the Lure of Natural Resources

Eric Olander, Cobus van Staden & more
Quartz’s Africa correspondent Lily Kuo recently returned from a reporting assignment to Rwanda where she discovered a very different side of China’s engagement in Africa. Rwanda lacks many of the resources and large markets that other African states...

China’s Controversial, Out-Sized Role in Africa’s Digital Revolution

Eric Olander, Cobus van Staden & more
Africa is home to one of the fastest growing technology markets in the world. In fact, more African households own a mobile phone than have reliable electricity or clean water. The combination of a young population, quickly growing economies, and...

Chinese-IMF Rivalry Worsened Congo’s Debt Load

Eric Olander, Cobus van Staden & more
In 2007, when China’s Exim Bank unveiled a massive U.S.$6 billion mining deal in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), it rocked the normally-staid world of international development finance. The agreement, known as Sicomines, was among the...

A New Generation Of Chinese Social Entrepreneurs Is Emerging In Africa

Eric Olander, Cobus van Staden & more
The dearth of Chinese NGOs in Africa should not come as a surprise given that the emergence of the non-profit sector in China is a relatively new phenomenon. Today, there are an estimated 500,000 registered NGOs in the P.R.C., most of which focus on...

China’s Media Challenges Western Narratives of Africa

Eric Olander, Cobus van Staden & more
The Chinese media presence across Africa has expanded dramatically over the past ten years, as Beijing has built a vast distribution network for its newspaper, radio, and TV content. China’s flagship TV network, China Central Television (CCTV),...

Humanizing the China-Africa Relationship with Film

Eric Olander, Cobus van Staden & more
When independent filmmaker Carl Houston Mc Millan was growing up in the tiny southern African country of Lesotho, he saw firsthand the effects of China’s surging engagement in Africa. Even in this remote country, embedded within South Africa, far...

What Do Zambians Really Think of Chinese Immigrants?

Eric Olander, Cobus van Staden & more
For decades, Zambia had been the flash point of anti-Chinese sentiment in Africa. Late president and outspoken opposition leader Michael Sata was unrivaled in his seething criticisms of both China and the Chinese who had migrated to his country...

Chinese Business’ Complicated Role in Kenyan Corruption

Eric Olander, Cobus van Staden & more
One of the many simple, widely-believed narratives about the Chinese in Africa is that Chinese businesses fuel corruption across the continent. Chinese corporate corruption in Africa is well documented, from allegations of paying off corrupt...

Why More Africans Are Learning Mandarin

Eric Olander, Cobus van Staden & more
The South African government’s 2015 decision to start offering Mandarin Chinese classes as a foreign language option at schools nation-wide sparked an uproar that baffled people in other, often more affluent, societies around the world where the...

Is Huawei Doing Enough to Train Local Staff in Africa?

Eric Olander, Cobus van Staden & more
The Chinese telecom giant Huawei recently launched a massive publicity campaign to raise awareness in Africa about what it is doing to train local employees. The company has opened at least five training centers in different countries across the...

China’s Undeserved Reputation for Building Bad Infrastructure in Africa

Eric Olander, Cobus van Staden & more
The Chinese build more infrastructure than any other country (foreign or African) in Africa. Chinese banks are financing billions of dollars in new loans, aid packages, and other deals to build badly-needed infrastructure across the continent, and...

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

Eric Olander, Cobus van Staden & more
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...

There Are a Lot More Chinese Soldiers in Africa Today... And Likely More To Come

Eric Olander, Cobus van Staden & more
Around 2014, the Chinese began to shift their military engagement strategy in Africa to include the deployment of combat-ready infantry units to countries like Mali and South Sudan where the United Nations is being actively targeted by Islamist...

China’s Relationship Status with South Africa: ‘It’s Complicated’

Eric Olander, Cobus van Staden & more
South Africa’s relationship with China has undergone a profound transformation in a remarkably short period of time. In less than 20 years, the two countries have gone from barely acknowledging one another to developing a deep partnership that...

China Was Once a Hot Destination for African Migrants, Not Any More

Eric Olander, Cobus van Staden & more
It was not that long ago that entire neighborhoods in the southern Chinese city of Guangzhou were overflowing with African migrants. Although there are no precise figures, scholars estimated that between 20,000-100,000 African immigrants used to...

Namibia’s Chinese Ivory Smugglers

Eric Olander, Cobus van Staden & more
Namibia is the rare country in Africa that seems to be holding its own against ivory poachers. Whereas in most other southern African countries the elephant population is being decimated, in Namibia, according to the government, the number of...

Why the Stakes Are So High for China in South Sudan

Eric Olander, Cobus van Staden & more
Nowhere else in Africa do China’s financial, diplomatic, and geopolitical interests confront as much risk as they do in South Sudan. Beijing has invested billions of dollars in the country’s oil sector, deployed over a thousand troops to serve as U...

China’s Ambitious New ‘Silk Road’ Trade Route Takes Shape in Africa

Eric Olander, Cobus van Staden & more
Four years and hundreds of billions of dollars later, China’s ambitious global trading strategy known as the “New Maritime Silk Road,” or “One Belt, One Road” (OBOR), is now coming to life, particularly in parts of East Africa where major...

Industrialization in Africa: Ethiopia Wants to Become the New ‘Made in China’

Eric Olander, Cobus van Staden & more
There’s a pretty good chance that some of the clothes you’re wearing, the shoes on your feet, and even the device you’re using to read this were made in China. Even as its economy slows, China remains the world’s factory, churning out billions of...

Online Outrage Over Racist Chinese Ad Says a Lot About How China and the West React to Racism

Eric Olander, Cobus van Staden & more
The company behind the racist Chinese laundry detergent ad that sparked widespread online outrage around the world issued a half-hearted apology for the uproar it caused. Actually, it was one of those “we’re sorry if anyone was offended” kind of...

Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About the Chinese in Africa But Were Too Afraid to Ask

Eric Olander & Cobus van Staden
The Chinese presence in Africa has been so sudden and so all-encompassing that it’s left a lot of people confused. Chinese farmers now compete for space and customers in Lusaka’s open-air markets, Chinese textiles are undercutting Nigerian...

Why Chinese Agriculture Engagement in Africa is Not What it Seems

Eric Olander, Cobus van Staden & more
The Western and African media have long fueled the myth that Chinese investors are buying up vast tracts of land across Africa as part of a neo-colonial plan to export food back to China. Sure, on one level, the theory appears plausible: China has...

Why Chinese Companies in Africa Are Improving Their Behavior

Eric Olander, Cobus van Staden & more
Chinese companies around the world, particularly in Africa, have a well-earned reputation for being bad corporate citizens. There are countless stories of labor rights violations, disregard of environmental policies, and lack of engagement with...

Race, Culture, and the Politics of Being Black in China

Eric Olander, Cobus van Staden & more
Being black in China is not easy, but it’s not as bad as many would have you think, according to our two guests this week, who are both black immigrants currently living in Beijing. Sure, people stare a lot and there are often some inappropriate...

As BRICS Slow Investments in Africa, Turkey Ramps Up

Eric Olander, Cobus van Staden & more
Remember when the BRICS were going to power the global economy? Well, the past few years have not been kind to Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa. With the exception of India, the other members of this once elite diplomatic club are...

The Long Arm of Chinese Law Reaches All the Way to Kenya

Eric Olander & Cobus van Staden
The Kenyan government’s consent to a Chinese request for the deportation of dozens of alleged cyber and telecom fraud has now bloomed into a full-scale diplomatic crisis. Among those forcibly sent to China included dozens of Taiwan nationals, many...

China’s Growing Appetite for African Real Estate

Eric Olander, Cobus van Staden & more
Amid a prolonged economic downturn and a weakening yuan, Chinese investors have turned their focus to buying overseas assets. While there are a number of complicated reasons behind the massive capital outflows over the past 18 months, the fact...

A Chinese Journalist Reflects on Reporting the China-Africa Story

Eric Olander, Cobus van Staden & more
How foreign journalists report on the China-Africa story is often determined by the national origin of their news organization. While there are no doubt exceptions, the U.S. news media frequently frame China as the neo-colonial aggressor and Africa...

When China Sneezes, Does Africa Catch a Cold?

Eric Olander, Cobus van Staden & more
Chinese government officials have been on an all-out public relations offensive across Africa lately to reassure increasingly nervous political and business leaders that even though China’s economy may be slowing it will not affect the P.R.C.’s...

Continental Shift: How China is Changing Africa

Eric Olander, Cobus van Staden & more
For their new book, Continental Shift: A Journey into Africa’s 21st Century, South African authors Kevin Bloom and Richard Poplak embarked on a 14-country odyssey across two continents over a span of five years to report on Africa’s changing...

Africa’s Role in China’s One Belt, One Road Global Trade Strategy

Eric Olander, Cobus van Staden & more
China’s lofty ambition to revive its ancient silk road trading routes is now becoming a reality. When complete, One Belt, One Road (OBOR), or the Maritime Silk Road as it is more commonly known, will connect China via rail and shipping links with...

As Economy Worsens, Chinese Migrants in Africa Confront New Challenges

Eric Olander, Cobus van Staden & more
Thousands of Chinese migrants who settled in Africa over the past 10 years now face mounting uncertainty as economic growth slows across the continent and back home in China. While there are no reliable estimates as to how many Chinese migrants...

China/Africa Vs. China/South America

Eric Olander, Cobus van Staden & more
China’s engagement in Africa is often seen by many observers in a vacuum without a broader understanding of how the relationship compares to Beijing’s strategy in other regions of the world. South America, in particular, provides an interesting...

Why Reducing Ivory Demand in China Will Not Curb Poaching in Africa

Eric Olander, Cobus van Staden & more
“When the buying stops, the killing can too,” reads the popular slogan that WildAid uses in its anti-ivory campaign to raise awareness in China. WildAid, along with most Western environmentalists, contend that curbing demand in China for ivory is...

China’s Risky Gamble to Become a Major Player in the Middle East and North Africa

Eric Olander, Cobus van Staden & more
Chinese president Xi Jinping’s three-country tour of the Middle East and North Africa offers yet another example of Beijing’s expanding drive for increased global influence. During his first visit to the region, Xi traveled to Saudi Arabia, Egypt,...

China’s Diplomatic Dilemma: Protecting its People and Property Overseas

Eric Olander, Cobus van Staden & more
Chinese special operations forces are training in the western deserts of Xinjiang in complex search and rescue missions, in environments that closely resemble North Africa or certain parts of the Middle East. Recently, these newly-trained military...

Africa Feels the Chill of China’s Cooling Economy

Eric Olander, Cobus van Staden & more
It hasn’t even been a month since Chinese president Xi Jinping was in South Africa for the triennial Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) confab where he unveiled a massive $60 billion financial package. Oh how those were innocent, halcyon days...

China and the World: What to Expect in 2016

Eric Olander, Cobus van Staden & more
The December China-Africa leaders summit in Johannesburg brought to an end a very busy year for Chinese president Xi Jinping and his foreign policy team. In many ways, 2015 marked a significant turning point in China’s increasingly ambitious global...

‘China is Doing More to Protect Elephants than Africa [Is]’

Eric Olander, Cobus van Staden & more
For the first time in years, there is positive news to report in the fight to save Africa’s elephants from extinction. A new study by Save the Elephants revealed that the price of ivory in China has halved over the past 18 months, indicating that...

FOCAC 6: A China-Africa Lovefest

Eric Olander, Cobus van Staden & more
The Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) summit concluded in Johannesburg on December 5 amid an almost giddy atmosphere. All sides in this relationship seemingly walked away with more than what they had anticipated.Africa provided a welcome...

Terrorism Forces its Way onto the China-Africa Agenda

Eric Olander & Cobus van Staden
Terrorism and security issues will likely move close to the top of the agenda when Xi Jinping meets with 50+ African counterparts at the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation summit. China’s vulnerability to terrorism was brazenly exposed when ISIS...

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...