Is China buying up Africa?

Published on Author Juan

China is pouring billions of dollars into Africa, running oil and mining firms all over the continent. China is constructing everything from roads and bridges to stadiums and important government buildings. The headquarters of the African Union, perhaps the most important political building in Africa, was built entirely with Chinese money, to the tune of $200 million. And while China is aggressively investing in Africa, the U.S. appears to be sitting on the sidelines. China has passed the U.S. to become Africa’s biggest trading partner. Xi Jinping became China’s new leader just two weeks ago and right now Xi is in Africa as one part of his first trip abroad as president. Africa is the world’s fastest growing market and has the world’s richest mineral reserves, so obviously there’s money to be made. But do the Chinese want more? Some argue that this is a new form of colonialism – a repeat of Africa’s hated past.


5 Responses to Is China buying up Africa?

  1. As a developing economy, China has many potential benefits from investing in Africa. Africa is extremely resource dense and in theory should be a lot richer than it is. Although a lot of people are skeptical that China will simply exploit Africa for its resources, President Xi has attempted to make it clear that this is not his intent. During his visit he signed more than 40 cooperative agreements, which included projects to improve the livelihood of the African people. Both Africa and China can benefit from the relationship and hopefully the Chinese investment will be able to spur on African domestic growth and sustainability. It will be interesting to see if other countries follow in China’s footsteps and put significant investment into Africa.

  2. I’ve heard of the same thing from an African leader whose father was once an ambassador in China. He wrote an article entitled “Africa must get real about Chinese ties” for Financial Times. To me, it is really sad that African leaders perceive China’s assistance in such a way. Yes there may be benefits for China too, but who else are there to help? In what ways does Africa want the help to be? At least Xi is trying hard to make his intentions clear.

    The article I mentioned:

  3. How does this differ from imperialism? I think that this is a short-run mutually beneficial arrangement between china and african countries. While Chinese investment might be building infrastructure not seen before in Africa, one might think that the infrastructure is very industry centric. For example, if a country is invested in for mineral extraction, infrastructure in the nation is going to centric to mining, processing and shipping of raw materials. There is no infrastructure being created that puts Africa in a long-term sustainable situation.

  4. I think that this arrangement will turn out well for both parties involved. China is coming out of an economic downturn and the added resources from Africa will help to jump start manufacturing. Africa can also be a country for which to ship exports to, something that China needs to be doing more of in present times. Africa will also benefit from this is the form of improving the lives of the average citizen. If China’s intentions are good, which they seem to be, Africa will become more modernized and begin to integrate with other improving countries.

  5. In most of these countries China is that last one to the party, not the first – most of Africa was carved up into French or British colonies (with the Portuguese and for short periods others in the mix). That was quite prominent during the Cold War, when China was one of the few friends available to countries (dictators!) that fell afoul of the major powers for one or another reason (but at the time China was too poor to make much difference).

    Some of this is merely about the new kid on the block.

    China is also engaging in FDI and foreign aid patterns parallel to those of Japan and Korea, though perhaps in bigger lumps. Remember too that there are capital controls: official FDI is limited to approved sectors (esp natural resources), though unofficial FDI can use foreign earnings that never were repatriated and so are hard for the government to control.