Thursday, August 8, 2013

China's Special Representative on African Affairs Answers Critics

In an interview on 6 August 2013 with Edward Paice, director of the Africa Research Institute, Ambassador Zhong Jianhua, China's special representative on African affairs, responds frankly to common criticisms of China's policy and conduct in Africa.  In particular, he answers the criticism by Lamido Sanusi, governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, that China is exploiting Africa in much the same way as the former colonial powers. 

Ambassador Zhong makes especially interesting comments on the inadequacy of Chinese official data, noting that President Xi Jinping used during his March 2013 visit to Durban a figure of $50 billion of Chinese investment in Africa, much higher than the previous official figure of about $15 billion.  He quickly adds that $50 billion is just an estimate.  I am convinced that China does not know the total amount of its FDI in Africa. 

Edward Paice and his colleague at the Africa Research Institute, Jonathan Bhalla, published something of a rejoinder on 16 August 2013 titled "China's New Competitor: Africa." They concluded that engagement between China and Africa over the next decade will be much more complex, even messier, than in the past. This will be confusing for the dragon-slayers and panda-huggers. "China: friend or foe" will be an inadequate frame of reference.

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