Eric Olander and Cobus van Staden are the duo behind the China Africa Venture and hosts of the favored China in Africa Podcast. We’re right here to reply your most urgent, puzzling, even politically incorrect questions, about all issues associated to the Chinese language in Africa and Africans in China.

Relying on who you converse with, China’s engagement in Africa is commonly described in excessive phrases as both the best thing to happen to the continent within the post-colonial period or simply the latest foreign predator coming to pillage Africa of its sources. With China’s presence in Africa now stretching throughout nearly all 54 countries the place an estimated 1 million Chinese language immigrants now dwell and lots of of billions of cross in annual commerce and funding, the connection between these two areas is extraordinarily sophisticated.

So when critics need to showcase the adverse penalties of China’s presence in Africa, there are numerous examples of labor abuses, illegal logging and wildlife buying and selling, corruption and so forth. Moreover, low-cost Chinese language imports are inserting large strain on African companies, which now should compete at a lot decrease costs. Then there are the human rights considerations the place Chinese language firms have been accused of exporting tools used for torture, weapons despatched to unstable nations or technology for repressive governments.

Zacharias Abubeker/Getty Photos

Ethiopian employees contained in the Huajian shoe manufacturing facility on the outskirts of Addis Ababa. Many Chinese language firms together with Huajian, which has made sneakers for Ivanka Trump’s line, have moved to Africa, the place labor is less expensive.

Whereas the negatives are legitimate and well-documented, they solely inform a part of the story. The constructive aspect of Chinese language engagement in Africa is equally compelling. The very fact is that whereas many individuals complain about how China’s large infrastructure constructing increase in Africa is being constructed and financed, to not point out concerns about quality, cash from some traditional donors in the West is drying up. African governments actually shouldn’t have a number of choices on the subject of financing billions of in fairly dangerous infrastructure initiatives. So the hundreds of miles of new rail lines, new digital networks, hospitals and ports which might be being constructed wouldn’t have occurred on wherever close to the size with out the assist of the Chinese language.

Beijing’s dedication to African infrastructure improvement is a central a part of the federal government’s “win-win development” agenda, additionally a key message in its propaganda marketing campaign that emphasizes China’s “peaceful rise” to superpower standing.

So is China a associate or predator? The brief reply, in accordance with quite a few main Sino-African students, is that this huge complicated relationship shouldn’t be binary and can’t be lowered to both “good” or “unhealthy.”

Siphiwe Sibeko / Reuters

China’s President Xi Jinping shakes palms with Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe whereas South Africa’s President Jacob Zuma seems on in the course of the Discussion board on China-Africa Cooperation in Johannesburg, Dec. four, 2015.

It’s the similar in Africa as it’s for China’s relations with different areas: “Each approaches supply oversimplified understandings of the complicated interplay among the many financial, geopolitical and safety dimensions of China’s relations with the remainder of the world,” mentioned Matt Ferchen from the Beijing-based Carnegie-Tsinghua Middle for International Coverage in a new paper on the notion gaps surrounding China’s financial and navy rise.

Matt joins Eric & Cobus ― within the podcast above ― to clarify why he thinks views concerning the Chinese language are so polarized in Africa and elsewhere and what affect the Trump revolution in america may have on China’s engagement in Africa.

Be part of the dialogue. Do you assume China is making a constructive contribution in Africa or do you are feeling that Beijing is just following the abusive instance set by the continent’s former imperial powers? Share your ideas:

Twitter: @eolander | @stadenesque