Monday, September 30, 2013

The newbie's guide to Africa-China research

Join your hosts Winslow Robertson and Dr. Nkemjika Kalu as they try and determine some of the major indicators of high-quality China-Africa research. They asked Dr. Yoon Jung Park, the convener/coordinator of the (world-famous) Chinese in Africa/Africans in China (CA/AC) Research Network, to be a guest on the podcast. Dr. Park is currently a freelance researcher. She has affiliations as Senior Research Associate of the Sociology Department at Rhodes University and just finished a Visiting Professorship in the African Studies Department of Howard University. If you ever wanted to figure out how to read an Africa-China article and/or news story like a pro, please listen to this episode!

PS Please excuse the typing sounds!



Tuesday, September 24, 2013

China's Economic Slowdown and African Employment

Join your hosts Winslow Robertson and Dr. Nkemjika Kalu as they tackle two topics that Winslow is pretty unfamiliar with: Chinese economics and African employment. They asked Merlin Linehan, who has a background working in international development and finance relating to emerging markets, to be a guest on the podcast. He is the head of China in Africa, which provides clients with high quality business intelligence on Chinese companies operating in Africa. If you you ever asked what China's economic downturn means for African employment, please listen to this episode!

PS Please pardon the technical difficulties on my end!


China needs to create good jobs for Africans by Mark Kapchanga
Will China’s Economic Slowdown Hit Africa Hard? by Dana Sanchez
African growth 'resilient’ to China slowdown, but AfDB wary of QE tapering risks by Terence Creamer
China’s slowdown: the impact on Africa by Andrew Bowman

Sunday, September 22, 2013

China’s Western Built Road to Africa

Originally posted on September 22, 2013 by Nkem
CCECC Chinese Firm construction of a light rail transport system in Abuja, Nigeria. Photo taken by Author 7/25/2011.
In April 2011, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) forecast that the Chinese economy would surpass that of the U.S.A. by 2016. This same Chinese economy increased its foreign direct investments in Africa, by over 73 times the 2003 figure by 2008; quickly becoming one of Africa’s largest trading partners.

The American response the same year was two-pronged. Domestically, the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco released a report announcing “goods and services from China accounted for only 2.7% of U.S. personal consumption expenditures in 2010… Chinese imports still make up only a small share of total U.S. consumer spending.” Internationally, high level American governmental officials, as well as their British and German counterparts, namely Hillary Clinton, David Cameron and Angela Merkel, worked hard to establish strategic partnerships with African states, including Nigeria, where I conducted research into growing Sino-African relations.

In the space of a few short years, Chinese investments and trade with Africa has grown exponentially, and Chinese companies are winning contracts away from American and Western competitors. Another scramble for Africa has begun, but this time with different actors.

The failure of the Washington Consensus and structural adjustment programs to improve African economies, shepherded the entrance of the Chinese, for it was these policies that opened African markets. Free trade, macroeconomic stability, and privatization did arguably very little to drive economic growth; they instead opened up African economies to influence, manipulation and exploitation by dominant parties.

Free trade meant that African products could not compete against western competitors which, shielded by subsidies and protectionism, could be offered at lower prices. Privatization served to bring about the ruination of attempts towards industries of scale; young industries in Africa were all too quickly without a safety net, and in the hands of over-eager and inept parties that mismanaged resources.

Industrial and economic progress did more than come to a grinding halt; it regressed. The elite became even more entrenched as strongmen, and together with outside actors, plundered and raped their countries, as the world stood by. This was what China entered into, a continent where most foreigners could be framed as exploiters and thieves. To pretend that China is the savior of Africa is to be naïve, but China is no worse than the rest, and today’s heartbreaking Africa is in part the making of the West.

Africans are increasingly choosing to engage with China and this, I would argue, is not due to Chinese efforts towards infrastructure development, aid or even economic growth. Yes, Chinese efforts to construct roads, railways and hydro-electric power plants are pertinent to African development, as are Chinese aid in agricultural development, healthcare and education. Chinese interests in African commodities have increased market prices, resulting in economic growth, while cheap Chinese imports have increased the buying power of the average African.

China’s greatest contribution to Africa is even more significant than all this. Engagement with China has afforded Africa a new sense of self-determination. Chinese presence as an alternative to the West, has allowed African actors a place at the table, a say in the determination of their future.

To think of the Chinese foray into Africa and increasing influence as a zero-sum game is to lose sight of the real opportunities that engagement with China now affords many African states. The argument can be made that increasing Chinese engagement on the African continent can have a limiting effect on western influence. However, to make such an argument stick, one must dismiss Africa’s history with the West. The West is an international actor that Africa knows, and shares a history—one from which it is not easily removed. The question is then not about East versus West in Africa but rather about Africans’ attempts to decide for themselves, to be active participants in the pursuit of their own best interests.

The entry of the Chinese does not magically herald the dawning of a new day for Africa. There is still much to be done for Africa. A major hindrance to development has been African complacency and dependence on outside actors. So before making the same mistake, note that, 1) China is not the solution to Africa’s developmental challenges and 2) China, like the West, is in Africa to further China’s own interests.

Following the logic of James F. Lincoln’s thoughts on competition, it is clear that the entry of China into Africa has set the stage for competition for African resources and markets. Competition is good for all, the Chinese, the West and Africa. It reinforces the foundations for human development, and ignites the furnace of progress. Competition in Africa means that there will be winners and losers; it portends the disappearance of the lazy and incompetent, leaving behind the skilled and talented.

The development of strategic partnerships between African states and western entities reiterates the fact that the introduction of the Chinese has provided African states with a new leverage, a coming of age, an embracement of their sovereignty. So should western states then be afraid of China in Africa? On the contrary, what should drive policymaking is the development of this new Africa, a self-aware, self-promoting, and self-determined Africa.
For the record I do not consider myself a dragon-slayer or a panda-hugger, but instead an Africanist motivated by the potential for African growth and development that acknowledges that there are many challenges from internal and external actors and conditions that can and do impede the region.

Monday, September 16, 2013

The Chinese, The Taiwanese, "Fong Kong," and Labor in South Africa

This is a recording of a lecture by Dr. Yoon Jung Park, entitled "The Chinese, The Taiwanese, 'Fong Kong,' and Labor in South Africa" that took place on September 12, 2013 at the Ralph J. Bunche International Affairs Center. Dr. Park was introduced by the director of the Center, Dr. Harold Scott. Dr. Park's lecture was followed by a question and answer session.

Introduction - 0:32
Lecture - 5:21
Questions and answers - 1:01:17

How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the 2013 China-Africa White Paper

Join your hosts Winslow Robertson and Dr. Nkemjika Kalu as they try and understand the recently released Chinese white paper, China-Africa Economic and Trade Cooperation (2013). If you are listening to this podcast, we are pretty sure you heard about it. Assisting them is Frances Pontemayor, a Chinese development finance specialist with an interest in Africa-China relations who recently received her Masters in Public Policy from Tsinghua University. If you wanted to know what does this document means, why it was written, how accurate the statistics are, and more, please listen to this episode!



Full Text: China-Africa Economic and Trade Cooperation (2013) by The Information Office of the State Council

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

The (Not Really) Definitive "Is China a Neo-Colonial Power" Discussion

Join your hosts WinslowRobertson and Dr. Nkemjika Kalu as they engage in pseudo-intellectual navel-gazing: whether China is a neo-colonial power or not. However, not content to simply discuss this issue as is, they are adding an extra layer of texture by using former Ghanaian President/famous Pan-Africanist Kwame Nkrumah’s definition of the term "neo-colonialism" from his 1965 book Neo-Colonialism, the Last Stage of imperialism. Enjoy!

PS We love Kenya!



The essence of neo-colonialism is that the State which is subject to it is, in theory, independent and has all the outward trappings of international sovereignty. In reality its economic system and thus its political policy is directed from outside. (Nkrumah, Neo-Colonialism)

The result of neo-colonialism is that foreign capital is used for the exploitation rather than for the development of the less developed parts of the world. Investment under neo-colonialism increases rather than decreases the gap between the rich and the poor countries of the world. (Nkrumah, Neo-Colonialism)
As Africa welcomes more Chinese migrants, a new wariness sets in
Sub-Saharan Africa: Trends in U.S. and Chinese Economic Engagement

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

The Second Best China-Africa Podcast You Ever Heard!

The triumphant debut of the Cowries and Rice Podcast, the second best China-Africa podcast you ever heard!

What are the perceptions of China-Africa relations? What do Africans and Chinese, in particular, think of that relationship? We are glad you asked that! Listen to this episode of the Cowries and Rice podcast as the speakers commit all sorts of cardinal sins about social science research; generalizing based on anecdotes and incomplete data, and making claims that are not exactly reviewed by a scholarly body! Dangerous!

Join host Winslow Robertson with (three possibly permanent) co-hosts: Dr. Nkemjika Kalu who just earned her PhD in Political Science from the University of Nebraska - Lincoln, where she studied Nigerian perceptions of engagement with Chinese immigrants; Elle Wang who is pursuing her PhD from George Mason University in Public Policy is studying African migrant communities in Guangzhou and Yiwu; and Andy Liu, a U.S.-based Chinese blogger on China as well as a communications professional in global development, and formerly a CCTV journalist. How do the Africans and Chinese peoples with whom they have interacted felt about the China-Africa relationship? How do our current perceptions of the China-Africa relationship compare with the experiences faced by Chinese migrants in Africa and vice versa? Listen to this week's episode to find out!