Given its experience of colonialism, Africans have long been suspicious of Chinese intentions on the continent. Recent allegations of unprecedented Chinese state-sponsored acquisitions of African farmland have alarmed many who now fear that Africa, with its large tracts of untouched arable land, will enter a new colonial era.
In her book, Will Africa Feed China?, leading expert and National Committee director Deborah Bräutigam analyzes the nature of Chinese agricultural investment in Africa. After conducting research in several African countries, Dr. Bräutigam discovered that despite claims of a calculated Chinese plan to control rural Africa for its own purposes, Chinese agricultural investment in Africa has been remarkably limited; in fact, China exports more agricultural goods to Africa than it imports.
The concern is not limited to agriculture; Chinese investment throughout Africa has generally been viewed through a neocolonial lens. The widespread suspicion calls into question the foundation of Sino-African relations. Dr. Bräutigam discussed her book, and Chinese policy in Africa at the first installment of our 50th Anniversary special series, China and the World, on February 25, 2016 in New York City. This interview was conducted by National Committee President Stephen Orlins.
Dr. Deborah Bräutigam is the Bernard L. Schwartz Professor of Political Economy, director of the International Development Program, and director of the China Africa Research Initiative at Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS). Her most recent books include The Dragon’s Gift: The Real Story of China in Africa (Oxford University Press, 2011) and Will Africa Feed China? (OUP, 2015). Before joining SAIS in 2012, she taught at Columbia University and American University.