China’s Second Continent: How a Million Migrants Are Building a New Empire in Africa

Howard W. French. Knopf, $27.95 (320p) ISBN 978-0-30795-698-9
Since Jiang Zemin’s state visit to Africa in 1996 and his subsequent call to Chinese businesses to “go out” in search of opportunities abroad, China’s trade with Africa has grown dramatically, today surpassing its trade with either Europe or the U.S. But China’s investments, including massive building projects, are less significant for this rapidly evolving relationship, according to this 15-country survey by veteran African correspondent French (A Continent for the Taking), than the significant flow of new Chinese immigrants—often pushed out by the pressure and oppression back home as much as lured by opportunity. In vivid first-person reportage, French explores this momentous phenomenon, while challenging assumptions about China and Chinese immigrants. Lively interviews with Chinese entrepreneurs, African workers, politicians, and others reveal an already advanced socioeconomic and political landscape. Casual racism, strife between Chinese employers and native African workers, grassroots protests against Chinese inroads into markets, and political demagoguery exist side by side. Contrary to China’s official disclaimers, this relationship—based on acquisition of resources but also the securing of new markets for Chinese goods—bears a striking resemblance to Western colonialism. The book will appeal to students of China and Africa, and anyone interested in the shifting contours of the global economy and its geopolitical consequences. (May)
Reviewed on: 02/03/2014
Release date: 05/20/2014
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