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

A China in Africa Podcast

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 accusation of neo-colonialism and that Beijing is only interested in exploiting the continent’s natural resources.

The reality, though, is much more complicated, according to Financial Times Investigations Correspondent Tom Burgis. The Chinese, writes Burgis in his new book The Looting Machine, are just the latest entrant in Africa’s “looting machine” where, through collusion with corrupt African elites, the continent’s wealth and resources are plundered on a staggering scale.

Burgis emphasizes that it would not be accurate to equate China’s participation in the “looting machine” to that of the former imperial powers that once ruled Africa. Instead, he says, the Chinese in Africa are often operating within the parameters of global capitalism, a system that implicates all of us who buy goods in today’s borderless market.

Burgis joins Eric and Cobus this week to discuss the darker, more nefarious side of China’s engagement in Africa.