China in Africa

Wednesday, June 04, 2014

Chinese constructor Liou stands next to a site in Nairobi on May 13, 2014. Kenyan contractors are losing out to Chinese firms that are grabbing lucrative construction tenders for private projects. Chinese constructor Liou stands next to a site in Nairobi on May 13, 2014. Kenyan contractors are losing out to Chinese firms that are grabbing lucrative construction tenders for private projects. (SIMON MAINA/AFP/Getty Images/Getty)

China’s presence in Africa has been growing and it is shaping, and reshaping, the future of millions of people. Howard French, prizewinning foreign correspondent and former New York Times bureau chief in Shanghai and in West and Central Africa, talks about China’s economic, political, and human presence across the African continent. In China’s Second Continent, French crafts a layered investigation, looking at policy-shaping moguls and diplomats and the ordinary men and women navigating the street-level realities of cooperation, prejudice, corruption, and opportunity in Africa.


Howard French

Comments [12]


Such a racist point of view and disappointing that Leonard Lopate just nods to this propagandist interview. Chinese go to Africa with racist attitudes but Americans do not? Is that factual reporting? He doesn't want to make "blanket generalizations" but makes them constantly here at the expense of Chinese. I'm not Chinese and don't have any sympathy for Chinese government, but this nationalism and racism, wrapped in BBC or NY Times-like pseudo journalism is upsetting, and I guess unavoidable on this radio station.

Jun. 05 2014 01:31 PM
deb from Hoboken

I too was recently in 6 countries in Africa, and the common thread from the people I met was how China was taking all the resources (exact phrase was "raping Africa of its resources"), especially in Zimbabwe. Once they have what they came for they leave and do not clean up the mining sites etc, because the countries no longer have leverage. In Tanzania they are paving roads, and I understand want to put in a high speed train from Nairobi to the coast, I'm sure this is all to speed up the process of removing the assets from the individual countries.

I have yet to mention the devastating effect poaching from ivory(high status trinkets) to turtles (soup) they have had on the wildlife.

I'm sure these deals are padding the the pockets of leaders like Mugabe and not filtering down to the people who so need responsible community development.

Jun. 04 2014 02:25 PM
Jon Bagdon from New York

I have been to Africa numerous times to at least 7 of the sub-Saharan countries, including the DRC. The main reason that African countries are in such unfortunate situations is, colonialism, period. Jon Mugabi is in Zimbabwe thanks to Chinese arms. Any one who thinks that the Chinese involvement in Africa will benefit African people or wildlife in any substantial way is just blind. The Chinese will destroy the continent and will turn it's back on the ashes it leaves behind, when it totally uses up all the natural resources there.

Jun. 04 2014 02:07 PM
Tony from Canarsie

jgarbuz -- Good point.

Jun. 04 2014 02:00 PM
dan k from park slope

sounds like China needs a refresher course of the Boxer Rebellion

Jun. 04 2014 01:55 PM
jgarbuz from Queens

To Tony

So I have heard and seen in documentaries, but there is no question that the Chinese had a HUGE fleet of HUGE ships, but how far out they got is speculative. But that they had that huge fleet capable of doing so and that it went out quite far is incontrovertible.

Jun. 04 2014 01:49 PM
Tony from Canarsie

jgarbuz -- borrowing from the previous segment:

Gavin Menzies has been thoroughly debunked. ;-)

Jun. 04 2014 01:44 PM
jgarbuz from Queens

They are just Chinese going abroad to seek their fortunes just as English, Scottish, Irish, Jews and many others did here. They are going to Africa to get on the ground floor of the next wave of development which will finally be Africa. They want to be in on it and have their businesses grow as they help Africa come up.

Jun. 04 2014 01:42 PM
jgarbuz from Queens

If the Chinese had a different attitude, as Europeans did, they could have colonized America, Africa and even confronted Europe which they did not know where exactly it was. But they would have found Europe eventually if they followed the coast of west Africa all around. The whole world could have been speaking Chinese rather than English today.

Jun. 04 2014 01:35 PM
Steve from NYC

We started a lunchtime drinking game. Every time Leonard starts his comment with "Well.." we drink. I'm drunk already. Every single time he speaks he says "Well..."

Jun. 04 2014 01:32 PM
jgarbuz from Queens

The most amazing thing is that China was a superpower half a century before Columbus set sail west to go look for China and India. The Chinese empire sent out ships around the world, and one author Menzies claims that they even discovered the "New World" in 1421, but they chose not colonize and just took items they discovered back to China. Since they found nothing outside of their borders that was particularly interesting, and mostly more backwards than themselves, they decided to turn inward and even burned their vast fleet of huge ships so that there would be no more excusions far off> They were afraid barbarians would come to them, and they did not need that. That was a little after 1421.
What the Chinese fleet overlooked as they turned around Africa was a tiny continent we call "Europe." The Chinese fleet proceeded west and finally turned around, went around back around Africa back to Asia and home never having discovered Europe.
Now that China is back it's doing things differently. It is starting to colonize just as Europeans did centuries ago. It needs markets and some more colonies of its own people abroad to develop those markets. Jsut as Europeans developed the "New World" for Europe until the Americas made themselves independent.

Jun. 04 2014 01:30 PM
john from office

Lets see where we are in 20 years. Will this infrastructure be maintained and by whom?? The migration of ethinic Chinese to Africa is very interesting and where will that be in the coming years?? Will they become a political force and will they inter-marry?

Jun. 04 2014 10:27 AM

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