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A weekly discussion on China's engagement across Africa hosted by veteran journalist Eric Olander in Asia and Dr. Cobus van Staden in Johannesburg.

A weekly discussion on China's engagement across Africa hosted by veteran journalist Eric Olander in Asia and Dr. Cobus van Staden in Johannesburg.
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A weekly discussion on China's engagement across Africa hosted by veteran journalist Eric Olander in Asia and Dr. Cobus van Staden in Johannesburg.








Chinese Loans for African Infrastructure: How Much Is Too Much?

Amid rising concern over surging debt levels in Africa and costly infrastructure projects that are economically unsustainable, both Chinese and a number of African governments are now beginning to re-evaluate their approach on how to pay for large-scale infrastructure projects. This week Eric and Cobus discuss the increasingly contentious politics of financing African infrastructure and rising Chinese political pressure at home for more accountability in response to big losses on African...


China in Africa: An Increasingly Uneasy Marriage of Interests

London-based independent journalist Ismail Einashe joins Eric & Cobus to talk about his latest reporting trip to Africa where he wrote about China's deteriorating standing in several African countries, most notably Kenya and Zambia. Ismail has covered the China-Africa relationship for a number of years, reporting for news organizations in the U.S., the Middle East, and Europe, and has noticed that in recent months there's been a discernible shift in how many African stakeholders view ties...


The Role of Human Rights in the China-Africa Discourse

This week Dr. Stacey Links joins Eric & Cobus from Amsterdam to discuss her research in the role that human rights plays within the broader China-Africa relationship. Stacey, a South African native, recently completed her Ph.D. on the subject at the University of Utrecht in the Netherlands. She explains why the human rights dimension of the China-Africa discourse is "partial, misleading and incomplete." Join the discussion. Are you concerned about the lack of attention that Chinese and...


The Promise and Peril of Chinese Tech Investment in Africa

In this week's show, we bring you two perspectives on the promise and peril of increased Chinese technology investment in Africa. Harriet Kariuki is an emerging markets analyst in Kenya where she surveys the digital landscape and local start-up scene to identify investment opportunities for foreign companies, including many from China. Harriet also writes extensively on China-Africa tech issues on LinkedIn where she discusses both the promise and peril of Chinese technology investment on...


Why South Africa's Large Chinese Population is Known as the "Quiet Community"

Known as the "quiet community," the Chinese in South Africa have built complex social and business networks that largely exist outside of the margins of the country's fractious racial and political landscape. That is now beginning to change with China's emergence as South Africa's most important trading partner and one of the country's largest sources of foreign direct investment. Barry van Wyk, Project Coordinator of the Africa-China Reporting Project at the University of Witwatersrand in...


Africa's Role in the Ongoing Chinese Debt Crisis Debate

Yu-Shan Wu, a researcher at the Africa-China Research Project at Wits University joins Eric and Cobus this week to discuss a recent paper that she co-wrote with Cobus and professor Chris Alden from the London School of Economics about Africa's role, or agency, in the ongoing debt trap debate. Join the discussion. How do you see Africa's positioning in this discussion? Do you agree with the Western narrative that African leaders are being victimized by predatory Chinese lending practices...


The End of China's Non-Intervention Policy in Africa

Dr. Obert Hodzi, a scholar at Boston University's African Studies Center and a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Helsinki joins Eric & Cobus to discuss his new book "The End of China's Non-Intervention Policy in Africa" and why he thinks this major Chinese policy shift is happening in Africa faster than in other parts of the world. Join the discussion. Are you concerned about China’s move away from non-interventionism in Africa and elsewhere or do you think Beijing is right to...


Don't Be Fooled by the Numbers, State of China-Africa Trade is Healthy

Walter Ruigu, Managing Director of Beijing-based China-Africa Merchant Advisors, joins Eric & Cobus to discuss the current state of Sino-African trade relations. In particular, he explains why the data that indicates a dramatic slowdown in two-way trade is misleading due to distortions related to Chinese purchases of African oil. Join the discussion. Are you concerned about the state of China-Africa trade and how Chinese products are pouring into African markets? Or do you share Walter's...


The U.S. Wants to Challenge China’s Dominance in Lending to Developing Countries. Here's How They’re Going To Do It.

U.S. president Donald Trump signed the Better Utilization of Investments Leading to Development, also known as the BUILD Act, into law on October 5th, creating a powerful new development finance organization that is aimed at challenging China’s dominance in lending to developing countries. The law combines two existing organizations, the United States Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) and USAID’s Development Credit Authority to a form a new entity called the International...


How Media Both Reflects and Directs Increased Anti-Chinese Sentiment in Zambia

This week Eric and Cobus discuss the recent surge of anti-Chinese sentiment in Zambia where public anger is on the rise against politicians in both Lusaka and Beijing. Critics accuse both governments of not being sufficiently transparent about debt and whether core Zambian infrastructure assets are at risk. The heightened anxiety about the Chinese in Zambia is also reflected in the growing number of sensationalist, rumor-fueled news and social media stories about supposed Chinese...


A Chinese Perspective on the African Debt Trap Debate

Kai Xue, a Beijing-based attorney who specializes in outbound investment in developing countries, is among a growing number of Chinese analysts who is increasingly skeptical of the government’s rationale for committing so much money to Africa when there may better opportunities for Chinese investment elsewhere, particularly along the Belt and Road Initiative global trade route. He joins Eric & Cobus to discuss the current state of China-Africa relations and how the mood in China towards...


"The Debt Problem in Kenya is NOT China's Problem, it's Kenya's!"

Nairobi-based international development economist Anzetse Were suggests in a new paper for the South African Institute of International Affairs that Kenya's leaders, not China, should be the ones held accountable for borrowing too much money without a detailed, transparent plan on how to repay the loans. She joins Eric & Cobus to discuss the growing anti-Chinese backlash in Kenya and the country's' burgeoning economic crisis. Join the discussion. Do you agree with Anzetse that African and...


Have We Reached Peak China-Africa?

Longtime China-Africa scholar Luke Patey, a senior researcher at the Danish Institute of International Affairs, is among a growing number of analysts who believe that the outcome of this year's FOCAC summit clearly demonstrated that Africa now has a diminished role in China's global economic agenda. Luke joins Eric & Cobus to discuss what's behind this trend and his provocative column in the Financial Times on why the "Chinese Model is Failing Africa." Join the discussion. Do you agree...


Chinese Money for African Infrastructure Likely to Top FOCAC Agenda

Former CEO of the African Finance Corporation and current Quartz Africa columnist Andrew Alli joins Eric & Cobus to discuss why infrastructure financing will likely top the agenda at the Forum on China Africa Cooperation summit that convenes in Beijing on September 3. Join the discussion. Do you think it's wise for African leaders to borrow huge amounts of money from China to help jump-start industrial development, or are these leaders being reckless with their countries' economic futures...


Green Issues Likely Sidelined at Upcoming China-Africa Summit

Environmental issues no longer appear to be a top priority in the China-Africa dialogue. While there have been a lot of discussions about health, military and media issues in the run-up to next month's FOCAC summit, there's been little to no mention of wildlife conservation, pollution or other green-related topics that were once a key focal point. China's 2018 decision to outlaw its domestic ivory trade eliminated what once was a highly-charged issue that long defined China-Africa...


Is This Really the Best Time for a China-Africa Summit?

Longtime China-Africa analyst and University of Pretoria Phd candidate Yushan Wu joins Eric & Cobus for a lively discussion on whether it still makes sense for China to put on big, fancy and very expensive mega summits with African leaders like FOCAC that will take place in Beijing in September. Facing a slowing economy and a potentially devastating trade war with the U.S., maybe China has more important things to do? That said, Africa presents a huge potential market and enormous...


Previewing the Upcoming FOCAC Summit Through the Media's Lens

With the Forum on China Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) summit now just weeks away, international press coverage of the event is now ramping up. Over the past several weeks, Eric & Cobus have done a number of interviews with journalists around the world about what to expect at the upcoming summit and a few discernable themes that emerged from their questions. This week, Eric and Cobus discuss the media perceptions of China in different parts of the world that will likely shape how people...


An Insider’s View of the China-Africa “Debt Trap” Debate

W. Gyude Moore, Liberia’s former Minister of Public Works, recognizes that African countries are taking a huge risk by piling on ever-larger amounts of Chinese debt, but he thinks it’s worth it if the new roads, bridges and industrial parks can help spark economic growth needed to employ the continent’s bulging population of young people. Gyude joins Eric & Cobus to provide an insider’s perspective on the ongoing debate dangers of too much Chinese debt in Africa. Join the discussion. Do...


China's Rapidly Evolving Security Agenda in Africa

The opening of China's first overseas military base located in Djibouti is the most visible example of China's expanded security interests in Africa. However, behind the scenes, Chinese officials are moving to expand their relationships with African militaries across the continent. Earlier this summer, 50 African military leaders spent two weeks in Beijing to attend the inaugural China-Africa Defense and Security Forum. The event was organized by the Chinese government in preparation for...


Where Does Africa Fit in Xi Jinping's Worldview?

This September 50 African leaders will arrive in Beijing for what is widely expected to be one of the most important international summits of the year. Billions of dollars in financial aid and loans along with China's broader strategic direction for the continent will be unveiled at the Forum on China Africa Cooperation leaders summit. But the summit will take a place a delicate time for Chinese president Xi Jinping, where he is confronting enormous challenges related to the ongoing trade...