Posts Tagged ‘Deborah Brautigam’

[AUDIO] CTP Podcast: China’s Libya Policy-A Debrief with Deborah Brautigam

Saturday, March 26th, 2011

[AUDIO] China hardens stance against Libyan air strikes

Friday, March 25th, 2011

This article was originally published on

The Chinese government stepped up its criticism on Thursday of US and European air strikes on Libya. “We believe that the objective of enforcing the U.N. Security Council resolution is to protect humanitarian (objectives) and not to create an even bigger humanitarian disaster,” foreign ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu said at a regular news briefing in Beijing.

Jiang’s comments are just the latest in a series critical signals to come from Beijing over how the coalition is implementing United Nations resolution 1973 that authorised the creation of a no-fly zone over Libya and the bombing of ground targets.

Although China abstained from the vote, Beijing has been very clear in its position that the coalition air attacks risk killing civilians and should be halted immediately.


[VIDEO] China in Africa: Perspectives from Ghana

Monday, December 6th, 2010

The overwhelming majority of videos and documentaries produced about the Chinese in Africa are done through the perspective of Anglo eyes.  In contrast, “China in Africa” offers a the duel contrasts of both Chinese and Ghanian views on the changing role of China’s engagement in that country.  The video is beautifully shot and offers and a compelling narrative that is not well understood by most outsiders.  The producer also features an interview with China-Africa scholar Deborah Brautigam that offers some helpful historical context.

Deborah Brautigam on China in Africa

Tuesday, November 23rd, 2010

Although it has the feel of a propaganda puff piece, Blue Ocean Network’s (BON Live) recent story that featured leading Sino-African affairs scholar Deborah Brautigam is worth watching.  Brautigam’s point that the Chinese have a real chance at helping Africa raise its overall living standard with the surge of infrastructure and other investments is very interesting.  Specifically, she says, the Chinese are employing a development strategy that is entirely incompatible with Western policy but one that may actually produce far more lasting results.

[AUDIO] China in Africa Podcast: “Aid, Trade & Some Indignation”

Wednesday, October 27th, 2010

China in Africa Podcast: Aid vs. Trade in Africa

Sure, there’s a vigorous debate over just how many hundreds of billions of dollars the West has sent to Africa in the form of “aid” over the past half-century since colonial independence.  Some estimates put it in the trillions, while the OECD and others claim it’s merely in the 800 billion dollar range.  Regardless, the sums are huge.

That said, the amount of money is not what’s in question, the more pressing issue is what has all this “aid” actually accomplished?

The “aid” business

Each year NGOs, state actors and multi-lateral organizations like the UN pour ever greater sums of money into African states and rarely, if ever, are they actually held to account for the effectiveness of these costly programs.  Despite ever growing aid and development budgets, many of the key poverty indicators across Africa remain stubbornly high.

Aid industry critic and NYU professor William Easterly argues that the aid business itself is partially to blame for the problems.  The high level of professional incompetence on the part of too many young and inexperienced aid “experts” mixed with the economic distortions that result from the billions of aid dollars that flow through these countries often combine to form a toxic mix with debilitating consequences.

Enter the Chinese

Ten years after the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation summit that marked Beijing’s renewed enthusiasm for African engagement, the surge of Chinese investment, migration and influence across the continent is unmistakable. Like the West, the Chinese are pouring billions of dollars into Africa.  However, that money is largely going to support an aggressive agenda to acquire natural resources with complex cash and infrastructure deals.

Beijing’s so-called “No Strings Attached” trade-based approach has sparked the ire of Western governments and the aid industry who largely dismiss the Chinese as neo-mercantalists, even neo-colonials. That indignation, though, is prompting a growing number of analysts to raise their eyebrows.  Fellow African blogger and Beijing-based policy analyst Bradley Gardner highlighted in a recent article, “Aid, Trade & Some Indignation,” the inherent contradiction of EU/US states generously subsidizing their agricultural sectors that ultimately deprive developing world farmers of selling their goods at fair market value; subsequently impoverishing these states only to make them more dependent on Western aid.

The recent shooting of Zambian mine workers by Chinese supervisors and the well-documented corruption that accompanies many of China’s massive natural resource deals are indicative that Beijing’s African foreign policy is troubled in equally challenging ways.  However, the Chinese rejection of the Western aid model and the emphasis on trade deserves our attention.  After all, in a shorter period of time, China pulled more people out of subsistence poverty than any other society in human history — with only minimal international assistance.

[AUDIO] China in Africa Podcast: Winning Hearts, Minds and Wallets

Sunday, July 4th, 2010

In this edition of the “China in Africa” podcast, host Eric Olander speaks with Africa scholar Dr. David Robinson, Phd. of Western Australia’s Edith Cowan University about his recent article “Hearts, Minds and Wallets:  Lessons from China’s Growing Relationship with Africa.” This is a very compelling piece of work that highlights several critical double standards that Western observers often employ when evaluating Chinese activities in Africa.   Right off the top, Dr. Robinson debunks the myth that China’s presence in Africa is a relatively new phenomenon, echoing Dr. Deborah Brautigam and other scholars by pointing out that Chinese activities have been recorded in Africa dating back as early as the 14th century.  With respect to contemporary issues, Dr. Robinson explains how he does not seek to defend Chinese economic and political activity on the continent per say, which he adds deserves intense scrutiny, but rather highlight the gross inconsistencies of many of China’s Western critics in the aid, academic and diplomatic communities.    These critics, he contends, seemingly think the Chinese are employing extra-legal methods to “conquer” Africa when, in fact, Beijing appears to be using the very same economic and political levers used by European and American powers for over a century. (more…)

Deborah Brautigam: Three Gifts China Brings to Africa

Monday, June 7th, 2010

picture of HUThe leading academic scholar on “China in Africa,” American University professor Deborah Brautigam recently posted a short video for the International Food Policy Research Center in Washington, D.C. that expands on the thesis of her popular book “The Dragon’s Gift” by highlighting the three major “gifts” the Chinese have brought to Africa.   While the professor’s points are instructive about the Chinese approach to African development, they also highlight the failings of the West’s initiatives that have produced shockingly meager dividends from decades of multi-billion dollar “aid” programs.    For more of Brautigam’s comments to the IFPRC, a recording of her speech can be seen here. (more…)

The Chinese in Africa: What’s on the Web this Week

Sunday, March 14th, 2010

Backlash Against the Chinese? Kenya ConstructionThe International Political Economy Zone blog highlights the growing tension in Namibia between local shop owners and the burgeoning Chinese presence there.  IPE Zone details the dilemma for many African nations about how to manage China’s emerging clout.  On the one hand, the infrastructure deals and cash Beijing brings to the table is welcome.  Yet, there are strings attached — and in the case of the Chinese and Namibia it’s the presence of legions of Chinese entrepreneurs who are posing new competition for indigenous businesses.  I share the author’s conclusion that it is just too early to conclude whether or not China’s presence in Africa is an asset or a liability.  Too many analysts want to marry the old, dated paradigm of “colonialism” to the current Chinese activities in Africa.  It is hard to overstate how egregiously wrong that is as Beijing is approaching the continent with very a different set of objectives and tactics than did Europeans in previous centuries.

Does China Help or Hurt? Over at “The China Beat” blog writer, Angilee Shah posts another in a wave of reviews of Deborah Brautigam’s new book on the Chinese in Africa,  “The Dragon’s Gift: The Real Story of China in Africa.” Shah raises a few good points in her post about the important fact that is overlooked by most Western diplomats here in the Congo and elsewhere that China itself is a developing country with specialized expertise in working in under-developed conditions similar to what is available across Africa.  That specialization in low-cost, effective development offers tremendous potential especially when compared to American and European aid efforts that are seemingly obsessed with process and paperwork over results.

Do the Chinese hire locals? Speaking of Professor Brautigam, her excellent blog “China in Africa: The Real Story” links to a You Tube video from one DR Congo’s TV stations that confirms my own observations here in Kinshasa that the Chinese use a blend of Chinese and local labor for their massive construction projects.  From what I have seen here, each construction crew has dozens of Kinois who work under the supervision of a handful of Chinese foremen.  This is among the most sensitive issues both here in the DRC and elsewhere in the region where political leaders are expressing their frustration with the Chinese over the use of too many imported Chinese laborers at the expense of local hires.  Furthermore, several sources have told me that in other Congolese provinces, Chinese employers are regarded to be “overbearing” and are often embroiled in disputes over pay with local employees.  This is definitely an issue to watch as Chinese investment here continues to grow.