Social media is one of the best platforms to stay abreast of the latest Africa-China news and analysis. Twitter, in particular, is helpful as many of the field’s leading scholars, journalists and activists regularly use it to promote their work and share information. The feeds below feature many of the most prominent Africa-China commentators.
There are news portals, journalism networks and research institutions online that can assist a journalist's research on Africa-China relations or provide a helpful starting point for an investigation
The best place to go to stay informed on all the latest Africa-China news developments is the website of the China Africa Project (CAP), one of the partners for the production of this website. The website features news and analysis and the China Africa Podcast. For a small fee you can also sign up for the daily newsletter that delivers all this news and analysis to your inbox.
China in Africa: The Real Story is the blog of Africa-China scholar Professor Deborah Brautigam. While the blog focuses particular attention on Chinese aid and trade-related issues in Africa, it also features analysis of all the major Africa-China relations. The blog showcases writing from Dr Brautigam as well as other experts.
News agency Quartz produces regular journalism on China, China in Africa and China’s Africa Project. The Conversation Africa publishes news and views from the academic and research community and regularly produces articles on the topic of China in Africa.
The Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) website is a multilingual (English, Chinese, French) platform produced by the Chinese government that provides regular news updates on Africa-China relations.
The China-Africa Knowledge Project by the Social Science Research Council contains a range of resources for Africa-China researchers and hosts the Chinese in Africa/Africans in China Research Network and Researcher Database, an aggregation of academics, practitioners, and PhD candidates involved in the study of Africa-China relations. The database is searchable by area of interest, region or country, name of researcher, and institution.
The South African Institute for International Affairs (SAIIA) regularly publishes research and analysis on a number of issues involving China. SAIIA’s Africa-China research investigates the burgeoning relationship between Africa and China and the strategic implications of its broad-based cooperation with Africa. Since 2006 SAIIA has produced ground-breaking research on the motives, rationale and institutional structures guiding China’s Africa policy. See SAIIA’s China-Africa Toolkit and the China-Africa Factsheet, and this list of articles on how China’s Belt and Road plan will affect Africa.
The China Africa Research Initiative at the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS-CARI) is dedicated to promoting research, conducting evidence-based analysis, fostering collaboration and training future leaders to better understand the economic and political dimensions of Africa-China relations.
Some of the best Africa-China analysis is being produced by think tanks, NGOs and other stakeholders who regularly publish their findings online. These so-called “long reads” and research papers often portray a more accurate picture of the situation on the ground in Africa than what is found in mainstream news reporting, largely because newsrooms often lack the necessary expertise, time and resources. The following is a small sample of recently published articles, investigations and research reports that is well worth checking out online.
Resource-backed loans: Pitfalls and potential by David Mihalyi, Aisha Adam and Jyhjong Hwang (2020). Published by the Natural Resource Governance Institute (NRGI), this report analyses the data on resource-backed loans around the world and how they function, the risks and opportunities inherent in them and the involvement of Chinese banks.
After Guangzhou, 3 things will shape China-Africa “brotherhood” by Ma Tianjie. This article by the China Dialogue managing editor in Beijing presents a Chinese perspective on the incidents that occurred in Guangzhou in April 2020 and the subsequent diplomatic crisis, and suggests three major areas in which there will be a lasting impact on Africa-China relations.
A critical look at Chinese ‘debt-trap diplomacy’: the rise of a meme by Deborah Brautigam (2019) reviews the origin and spread Chinese “debt-trap diplomacy” meme in the context of stories about China’s international involvement in Angola, Djibouti, Sri Lanka and Venezuela that challenge the media’s spin.
Zambia’s looming debt crisis – is China to blame? By Arve Ofstad and Elling Tjønneland (2019) reviews the sources of Zambia’s debts and concludes that the Chinese are not the main culprits for the country’s looming debt crisis.
The PRC Twitter List: The Rise of China on Twitter by Manya Koetse. This article charts the recent surge on Twitter of accounts representing Chinese official media, diplomatic missions, and state organisations, and includes a lengthy list of Chinese accounts on Twitter.
WORLD PANGOLIN DAY: Pangolin poaching in Africa and trafficking to Asia – A cross-border investigation by HK01 and Anu Nkeze Paul (2017). This cross-border investigative journalism collaboration outlined how pangolins are poached in Africa and trafficked to Asia via elaborate smuggling networks, outlining how the demand and supply sides of the poaching-trafficking networks interact.
The field of Africa-China studies is expanding rapidly, providing a steady supply of new research and literature on this complex geopolitical relationship. The following is some of the good reads recently published on the topic.
Shaping the Future of Power probes the type of power mechanisms that build, diffuse, and project China’s power in Africa. It is necessary to take into account the processes of knowledge production, social capital formation, and skills transfers in Chinese foreign policy toward African states to fully understand China’s power building mechanisms. These elements are crucial for the relational power framework to capture both the material aspects and ideational people-centred aspects to power. By examining China’s investments in human resource development programmes for Africa, this book examines a vital yet under-theorized aspect of China’s foreign policy-making.
Chinese Media in Africa: Perception, Performance, and Paradox analyzes Chinese media expansion in Africa and its implication for the African media landscape by engaging with African journalists who train and work in Chinese media organisations based in Africa. The book analyzes how African journalists that enter the sphere of Chinese media are able to navigate the collisions and collusions that inform journalism in these settings. Through extensive interviews with African journalists, the author explores the constant negotiation of freedoms within state-controlled media organisations, and the paradoxical nature of Chinese media organisations that both preach equality with Africa and simultaneously promote Chinese hegemony in the media.
This book explains why conflict exists among Chinese foreign policy actors in Africa and argues against the concept that China has a grand strategy in relation to Africa. It does so by examining Africa-China relations by focusing on how China’s Africa policy is constructed and implemented, concluding that a large number of actors are active in its formulation and implementation. The book argues that China’s Hegemonic Political Discourse (HPD), the goal of achieving a Harmonious Society and later the Chinese Dream through the Scientific Concept of Development, has dominated Chinese political discourse. It is this HPD that acts as the structural imperative that allows for collective action in the Chinese foreign policy process in Africa rather than a Chinese grand strategy since the actors are unwilling to break the social norms of the collective process for fear of exclusion.
For students, journalists, diplomats, or business executives, this book provides the tools to understand the link between China and Africa via analysis of the mega-themes characterising the relationship. This is the last in a series of books covering the period 2014-2018 that saw the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) expanding across the globe, Africa welcoming Chinese tech advances and educational opportunities, and China banning domestic ivory trade. In this book the author discusses China’s role in Africa’s debt; How Trump’s America and China are battling for influence in Africa; Sino-Indian competition for influence in African Indian Ocean islands; India and Japan collaborating to counter China in Africa; China’s impact on African rhinos, marine life, and donkeys; Race in Africa-China relations; and Chinese Artificial Intelligence (AI) in Africa.
China's Belt and Road strategy is acknowledged to be the most ambitious geopolitical initiative of the age. Covering almost seventy countries by land and sea, it will affect every element of global society, from shipping to agriculture, digital economy to tourism, and politics to culture. Most importantly, it symbolizes a new phase in China's ambitions as a superpower: To remake the world economy and crown Beijing as the new centre of capitalism and globalization. Belt and Road: A Chinese World Order traces this initiative's history, highlighting its achievements to date and its staggering complexity. It asks whether the Belt and Road is about more than power projection and profit; might it herald a new set of universal political values to rival those of the West? Is it, in fact, the story of the century?
China is transforming Africa's information space. In the telecommunications sector, China is helping African governments to expand access to the internet and mobile phones, with rapid and large-scale success. Featuring a wealth of interviews with a variety of actors, this book demonstrates how China is both contributing to the “Africa rising” narrative while exploiting the weaknesses of Western approaches to Africa, which remain trapped between an emphasis on stability and service delivery, on the one hand, and the desire to advocate human rights and freedom of expression on the other. Arguing no state can be understood without attention to its information structure, the book provides the first assessment of China’s new model for the media strategies of developing states, and the consequences of policing Africa’s information space for geopolitics, security, and citizenship.
China’s new globalism plays out as much in the lives of ordinary workers who shoulder the task of implementing infrastructure projects in the world as in the upper echelons of power. Through unprecedented ethnographic research among Chinese road builders in Ethiopia, Tales of Hope, Tastes of Bitterness: Chinese Road Builders in Ethiopia finds that the hope of sharing China’s success with developing countries soon turns into bitterness, as Chinese workers perceive a lack of support and appreciation from Ethiopian labourers and state entities. The book sheds light on situations of contact in which disparate cultures meet and wrestle with each other in highly asymmetric relations of power, and conceptualizes how structures of domination and subordination are reshaped on the ground.
Taking a step back from the events-driven analysis characterizing much of the coverage of Africa-China relations, this book reflects how this subject has been, is being and can be studied with a comprehensive, multi-disciplinary and authoritative approach. Its diverse chapters explore key current research themes and debates such as agency, media, race, ivory, development and security using a variety of case studies from Benin, Kenya and Tanzania to Angola, Mozambique and Mauritius. Looking back, it explores the evolution of studies about Africa and China; looking forward, it explores alternative, future possibilities for a complex and constantly evolving subject.
The New Silk Roads takes a fresh look at the relationships being formed along the length and breadth of the ancient trade routes today. The themes of isolation and fragmentation permeating the Western world stand in sharp contrast to events along the Silk Roads, where ties are being strengthened and mutual cooperation established. This contemporary history provides a timely reminder that we live in a world that is profoundly interconnected. Following the Silk Roads eastwards from Europe through to China by way of Russia and the Middle East, the author assesses the global reverberations of continual shifts in the centre of power.
China is Africa's largest trade partner, largest infrastructure financier, and fastest-growing source of foreign direct investment, and Chinese entrepreneurs are flooding into the continent, investing in long-term assets such as factories and heavy equipment. The Next Factory of the World: How Chinese Investment Is Reshaping Africa argues that this is a story about resilient Chinese entrepreneurs building in Africa what they so recently learned to build in China – a global manufacturing powerhouse.
Chinese immigrants are in search of the African dream. China’s burgeoning presence in Africa is already shaping, and reshaping, the future of millions of people. From Liberia to Senegal to Mozambique, in creaky trucks and by back roads, French introduces us to the characters who make up China’s dogged emigrant population: Entrepreneurs single-handedly reshaping African infrastructure, and migrants barely scraping by but still convinced of Africa’s opportunities. French’s observations offer illuminating insight into why China is making these cultural and economic incursions into the continent; what Africa’s role is in this equation; and what the ramifications for both parties and their people – and the watching world – will be in the foreseeable future.
The number of video documentaries on Africa-China relations remains relatively small compared to the growing quantity of books published each year on the subject. Some international news broadcasters, notably Al Jazeera and the BBC, have produced several Africa-China investigations, and there have been a few independent film documentaries.
A number of interesting Africa-China news documentaries have been broadcast on Al Jazeera’s People and Power programme. For the episode King Cobra and the Dragon, Al Jazeera sent Sino-French academic Solange Chatelard and filmmaker Scott Corben to Zambia during the presidential elections in September 2011 to investigate whether Africa has entered a new era of colonialism with Chinese firms maltreating workers and devouring the continent's natural resources. In 2014 People and Power broadcast the two-part episode The Battle for Africa (Part 1; Part 2) about the effects of China's increasing influence in Africa, particularly on Africans themselves.
In 2014 Al Jazeera English's Empire programme dedicated a full episode, The New Scramble for Africa, to China's emerging role in Africa. The episode framed the discussion in colonial terms by characterizing the Chinese interest in Africa as a modern-day “scramble for Africa” comparable to the 19th century imperial land grabs by European colonizers.
In 2018 Al Jazeera’s Inside Story broadcast an episode, Does Africa benefit from its relations with China?, discussing China’s expanding presence in Africa. In 2020 the same programme broadcast the episode, Coronavirus: Why are Africans in China being targeted?
In 2019 the BBC produced a documentary, Is China's fishing fleet taking all of West Africa's fish?, about illegal and unsustainable fishing off the west coast of Africa. In 2020 the BBC’s Africa Eye programme produced an episode, The Trees That Bleed: How rosewood is smuggled from Senegal into Gambia, about the role Chinese traders are playing in West Africa, where the trees are cut down and smuggled into neighbouring Gambia and from there all the way to China.
Guangzhou Dream Factory is a documentary film produced by Christiane Badgley and Erica Marcus in 2017. The film weaves stories of Africans chasing alluring business dreams in China into a critique of 21st century global capitalism. Featuring a cast of men and women from Cameroon, Kenya, Nigeria and Uganda, Guangzhou Dream Factory provides a glimpse of African aspirations in an age of endless outsourcing.
The Ivory Game is a documentary film directed by Kief Davidson and Richard Ladkani and produced in 2016. The film exposes the global range of ivory trafficking; the directors spent 16 months undercover along with their crew and several subjects investigating the killing of elephants for their tusks and the smuggling of ivory to China. The film takes its viewers from Tanzania, Kenya, and Zambia to China, Hong Kong, and Vietnam, briefly stopping in London. Huang Hongxiang, CEO and founder of ACRP partner China House (中南屋), is featured in the film.
When China Met Africa was among the very first independent films to be produced that focused on the Africa-China relationship. Produced in 2010 by brothers Nick and Mark Francis, at the time this was a ground-breaking film as never before had the nuance of Chinese life in Africa been so effectively brought to life. The film gave voice to the millions of ordinary Chinese and African people who live and work at the frontier of this relationship.