Archive for the ‘Video’ Category

[VIDEO] BBC: The Chinese are Coming (part 1)

Saturday, March 26th, 2011

In this three part series on China’s surging international reach, the BBC’s Justin Rowland travels across a slice of Africa to explore the impact that the Chinese are having on the continent. He does an excellent job conveying the complexities of Sino-African ties, particularly at the grassroots level.

[VIDEO] Economist Sanou Mbaye on the growth of Sino-African civil society ties

Tuesday, December 28th, 2010

Senegalese author and economist Sanou Mbaye recently appeared on African Business News (CNBC’s African affiliate network) to talk about the development of civil society relations among African, Chinese and Western intellectuals.  Mbaye was among a number of prominent contributors to the Pambazuka Press book “Chinese and African Perspectives on China in Africa.”.

While Mbaye is a very interesting guy with some valuable insights, it’s regrettable that ABN’s London-based anchor Carina Kamel is clearly not very well-informed on the Chinese in Africa story.  Her editorial shortcomings aside, it’s well worth viewing to learn more about Mbaye and the need to development closer civil society ties among Chinese and African stake holders.

[VIDEO] China faces new scrutiny in Africa (but this time it’s different)

Tuesday, December 28th, 2010

A small, yet highly energetic group of demonstrators marched through the streets of South Africa’s Umlazi Township earlier this month to protest against what they claim is Beijing’s inadequate support for the United Nations’ anti-AIDS/malaria/tuberculosis initiative known as the “Global Fund.” Organized by the internationally recognized HIV/AIDS organization AHF Ithembalabantu Clinic located along the Eastern Cape in KwaZulu-Natal, the demonstrators rallied against Beijing for not living up to its financial responsibilities in the battle against HIV/AIDS transmission in Africa.

The clinic’s central charge is that China itself has benefitted enormously from the assistance provided by the Global Fund with $941 million in grants since 2002 yet Beijing has only contributed a paltry $16 million to the fund during that same period. Moreover, they add, now that China is the world’s second largest economy and Africa’s dominant trading partner, it now has the resources to not only consume less of the Global Fund’s resources but also contribute more of its own financial assets to help the fund’s activities in Africa.

This rally went entirely unnoticed by the international media and no doubt didn’t even register among Chinese officials in Pretoria. However, everyone should take notice.  There is a growing popular perception, particularly among many in the developing world, that China is no longer a victim of the industrialized world as it now itself is among the ranks of the major powers. The AHF demonstrators clearly suggest that China is facing an entirely different set of expectations among Africans than it did in the 20th century and that Beijing now has a different level of responsibilities that  it must live up to if wants to be taken seriously as a global leader (an assumption, by the way, that still remains to be seen in Africa).

The accusations of Global Fund greed are now just the latest on a expanding list of criticisms of China’s engagement in Africa.  Allegations of widespread environmental destruction, labor rights violations and a general lack of transparency in its dealings with African governments are all contributing to a growing sense of unease among a number of prominent African observers.

China would be well-advised to take heed from the message conveyed by the women outside of the AHF clinic. If Beijing wants to continue to deepen its influence in the region, the government needs to proactively engage its critics.  Engagement does not necessarily imply that the activists’ allegations are just or even accurate, but they must be acknowledged.  If Chinese officials fall back on their natural instincts to hide behind the walls and resist dialogue with their various African constituencies, then the frustrations expressed in KwaZulu-Natal will no doubt spread.

[VIDEO] Chinese students in France not making the grade

Tuesday, December 21st, 2010

In the United States, overseas Chinese students have a well-deserved reputation for ‘blowing the curve.’  That is, often Chinese students are among the top in the class and, thus, make it difficult for other students to compete academically.  In France, there is an entirely different concern, one that blows away this narrative of overseas Chinese students being such academic powerhouses.  Instead, the fear is that the quality of Chinese university students is so low that it’s potentially weighing down the higher education system.

In this France 2 report (re-broadcast on France 24), French education officials contend that they are attracting only those Chinese students who were unsuccessful in entering the Chinese university system and have chosen to come to France as some sort of back-up choice.  The fact that many of these foreign students do not speak French very well and may be struggling to adapt to France’s notoriously rigid educational system are also of concern.

[VIDEO] The Chinese in Africa: Profile of Yu Yuan

Sunday, December 19th, 2010

Vimeo user Yara Costa produced a very interesting short video that profiles Ghanian-based Chinese technology entrepreneur Yu Yuan.  This is an especially compelling video as it highlights a number of key themes related to the emergence of a large Chinese business class on the continent.  Specifically, it dispels the common misperception that the Chinese operating businesses across Africa are part of large multinationals when in fact there is a surge of small businesses that are having a tremendous impact on the local communities they operate within. (more…)

[VIDEO] China’s Rush to Build Global Media Brands

Thursday, December 16th, 2010

Al Jazeera’s excellent international media affairs program “The Listening Post” featured a report this week on China’s ambitions to create a global media brand with this year’s launch of CNC World.  I was featured in the report as one of three experts to share my thoughts on some of the challenges that Beijing and CNC will likely encounter with this endeavor.

One of the big mistakes that many international observers make about the Chinese and their global media ambitions is to frame the issue in purely, Western terms.  That is, if CNC World or CCTV News are not competitive with any of the major American or European media brands than somehow China’s media strategy is a failure.  While the Chinese no doubt have ambitions to create media properties with equal heft of CNN, the BBC and Al Jazeera among others, I do not think that is their only benchmark of success.

There is growing evidence that networks like CNC may not be targeting already competitive markets in North America or Europe but instead focusing their energy on emerging ‘Southern’ markets in Africa, South Asia and elsewhere. So it is critical to look at this issue in considerably broader terms than most Americans and European media watchers are accustomed.

The barriers to entry in the mature media markets in the developed world are simply too high for networks like CNC to viable without billions of dollars to invest in marketing and distribution.  By contrast, it is considerably cheaper for the Chinese to gain traction in less developed markets where it will not only be cheaper to penetrate but their product will likely receive a much better reception.

[VIDEO] Richard Dowden: The Pros & Cons of China in Africa

Wednesday, December 15th, 2010

In a very interesting video blog posted on “Big Think,” the head of the Royal African Society in London, Richard Dowden, shares his views on the pros and cons of how the Chinese are engaging Africa.  While he praises the economic boost that Chinese companies and investment have given to many regions across the continent, he decries the lack of interest that those same Chinese companies have towards the development of equally important civil society initiatives like transparency, human rights and the rule of law.

[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.

[VIDEO] Is China Colonizing Africa?

Wednesday, November 17th, 2010

Colonialism remains a very strong filter through which a sizable portion of Westerners still see Africa.  So it’s not surprising that when a new foreign power emerges, particularly one as opaque as China, that many Europeans and Americans default to that initial impulse and attempt to frame Beijing’s engagement in Africa as “colonial.”  The only real connection to colonialism is the fact that China is yet another foreign power operating in Africa in pursuit of the continent’s vast natural resources.  For the most part, the parallels end there.

Since the Chinese have no designs on “civilizing,” “converting” or involving themselves in African domestic social affairs, colonialism, in the traditional sense, is an inaccurate characterization of Chinese policy in Africa.

The Chinese are mercantilists.  Beijing’s agenda is driven by a desperate need to secure an ever growing list of natural resources to power their continually expanding economy.  Unlike their Western predecessors, the Chinese are not imposing themselves on African states.  Instead, they are using the levers of the 20th century economic system to its maximum advantage.  Whether it’s through the globalized trading system, the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank or increasingly the United Nations, there is little to no evidence to indicate that Beijing is anything other than a welcome investor.

That said, it is worth noting that Chinese investments and political activities do not receive sufficient scrutiny and lack a reasonable level of transparency.   Serious concerns about Chinese labor, environmental and corruption practices in Africa are all justified, but their behavior is hardly colonial.