China in Africa: What’s on the Web This Week

Made in Cameroon Another week, another set of major Chinese deals in sub-Saharan Africa.  Cameroon took the spotlight with an announcement that a Chinese bus manufacturer (still unknown but thought to be Kinglong United Automotive Industry (Suzhou) Co) will invest half-a-billion dollars in Douala. The factory will produce buses for the West-and-Central African markets and is apparently scheduled to be on line by as early as the end of the year.  What’s interesting in this announcement is how much Cameroonian officials emphasized that local labor and local managers will be employed at this manufacturing facility.   They’re likely trying to head off growing opposition in Africa over the Chinese tendency to import their laborers and managers to work on what are supposedly “joint ventures.”

Jia QinglinSino-South Africa Trade One of China’s most senior political advisors ended a 10-day African tour in South Africa pledging to address the growing imbalance in trade between the two countries.  Jia Qinglin (pictured) committed to China importing more finished products from South Africa and what’s interesting about this is that it comes just as Beijing is facing intense pressure from the United States over its artificially low currency valuation. In a move to thwart a drive to revalue its currency or stem growing criticism in the developing world, Jia may be an indication that China seeks to import more as a way of correcting its trade imbalance with many countries.

China’s Trouble in Zambia China in Africa researcher Aleksandra Gadzala teases us with what sounds like an extremely interesting article on the growing problems that Chinese immigrants are facing in Zambia. I say “teases” us because she only includes a small snipped of an extract of a larger paper on the subject that is available on through an expensive subscription to an academic journal (alas, beyond of the means of this poor blogger).   While so much of the research and news coverage of China investment across Africa focuses on elite actors, it’s my opinion that the much bigger story here is off the main roads, far away from the elites where hundreds of thousands of low-income Chinese immigrants across the continent are moving into unremarkable neighborhoods in Kinshasa, Lusaka and countless other cities.  The sheer size of the population and the speed with which it has arrived in Africa will play a significant role in determining the future course of Sino-Africa relations.

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