Wednesday, March 25, 2009

My talk at Indiana U. on China in Africa

Indiana University, Bloomington, recently posted a transcript of my remarks at its March 6 - 7 China in Africa symposium, co-sponsored by its East Asian Studies Center's African studies program (site) and its Center for International Business Education and Research (site). My talk was titled "Comparing Engagement with Africa by China and the United States." Here's the conclusion:
Since the mid-1990s, China has made an all out effort to gain favor in Africa. It has had considerable success and in some countries Chinese influence now surpasses that of the United States. The second term of the Clinton administration significantly increased the attention it gave Africa but was not able to increase significantly financial support for the continent. The Bush administration tripled the amount of aid to Africa, but did not increase the personal contact or attention. The net result so far this decade is that China has advanced its interests in Africa to a greater extent than the United States has done. The global financial crisis will adversely affect both China’s and the United States’ ability to enhance relations with Africa. The United States still has more resources than China but China is in relatively better economic shape following the financial meltdown. If current trends continue, China may have the short-term advantage in Africa.
The entire presentation can be accessed here, in PDF format.


  1. Very interesting comments. If in fact China's advantage is temporary, how will they lose it? Post Cold War, it seemed Russia lost its grip on Africa through economic destabilization and political dissent - but in these times it seems China's relationship with nations like Angola and Zimbabwe might be long term...

  2. China's advantage may well be long-term, but this is not a given. China clearly is better positioned in countries like Sudan, Zimbabwe, and Angola. But there are 53 countries in Africa, and most of them want to keep their options open with the West. Some that are trying to establish democratic governments and have strong civil society are also reluctant to tie themselves too closely to China. Perhaps they will rely less on the West but turn increasingly to democratic countries like India and Brazil.

    David Shinn