China and Africa: A Century of Engagement

China and Africa: A Century of Engagement

China and Africa: A Century of Engagement

China and Africa: A Century of Engagement


The People's Republic of China once limited its involvement in African affairs to building an occasional railroad or port, supporting African liberation movements, and loudly proclaiming socialist solidarity with the downtrodden of the continent. Now Chinese diplomats and Chinese companies, both state-owned and private, along with an influx of Chinese workers, have spread throughout Africa. This shift is one of the most important geopolitical phenomena of our time. China and Africa: A Century of Engagement presents a comprehensive view of the relationship between this powerful Asian nation and the countries of Africa.

This book, the first of its kind to be published since the 1970s, examines all facets of China's relationship with each of the fifty-four African nations. It reviews the history of China's relations with the continent, looking back past the establishment of the People's Republic of China in 1949. It looks at a broad range of areas that define this relationship--politics, trade, investment, foreign aid, military, security, and culture--providing a significant historical backdrop for each. David H. Shinn and Joshua Eisenman's study combines careful observation, meticulous data analysis, and detailed understanding gained through diplomatic experience and extensive travel in China and Africa. China and Africa demonstrates that while China's connection to Africa is different from that of Western nations, it is no less complex. Africans and Chinese are still developing their perceptions of each other, and these changing views have both positive and negative dimensions.


“Let China sleep, for when she awakes, she will shake the world,” was Napoleon’s response to those who asked about the quiescent China of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Today, China has indeed awakened, and she is shaking the world. As Mao Zedong declared in October 1949, upon the founding of the People’s Republic of China, “China has stood up!”

One measurement of how “China has stood up” is its emergence as a global economic and political power, extending its presence to nearly all corners of the world. As the second-largest global economy and the world’s factory floor, Chinese merchandise floods global markets. And as a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council, China is vested with worldwide decision-making power and responsibility. Some even call China a superpower, notwithstanding Beijing’s strenuous rejection of the title.

Whether China is a superpower or a rising power with worldwide influence, there can be no disputing that China’s interests are wide-ranging, quickly expanding, and on a global scale. In an era of globalization, China has established enduring relationships on all continents and with numerous partners, both major and minor. However, with the exception of Asia, no other continent can rival the extent, the intensity, the speed, and the impact of China’s relations in Africa.

China’s relationship with Africa has evolved in stages over six decades and has included ideological, economic, political, and security interests. In the years following the founding of the People’s Republic of China in 1949, Beijing was repressive politically, weak militarily, and backward economically. It also faced challenges to its legitimacy and sovereignty. Subsequent ideological battles with the Soviet Union over leadership over the world communist movement catalyzed Beijing’s early political outreach in Africa. China’s weakness constrained its Africa policy, which first focused on cultural and political . . .

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed


An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.