African Perspectives on a Rising China
About This Event

The pace of Chinese economic and political engagement in Africa shows no sign of slackening. Why has China been so successful at building influence and gaining access to resources on the continent? What concerns do African governments have about Chinese modes of engagement? What opportunities does China offer, and are Listen to Audio


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African states able to take full advantage of them? How might African relations with the United States and international financial institutions change as a result of Chinese policy? What effects do Chinese companies have on African investment climates? This event offers an unfiltered discussion of these important questions by a panel of senior African policy-makers, analysts, and business leaders.

At this AEI event, Patrick Mazimhaka, deputy chairperson of the Commission of the African Union and former minister in Rwanda; Joe Mollo, director of Corporate Diplomats and former ambassador of Lesotho to the UK and South Africa; and Michael Spicer, CEO of Business Leadership South Africa, will make presentations. Deborah Bräutigam, associate professor of international development at American University and a leading expert on the history of Chinese engagement in Africa, and Witney Schneidman, senior advisor at the Leon H. Sullivan Foundation, will place the panelists’ remarks in context. AEI resident fellow Mauro De Lorenzo will moderate the discussion.

The African panelists will also present “Business Principles for a Strong Africa: An African View”, a document prepared by the African delegation to the Africa-China-United States Trilateral Dialogue, which convened on three occasions between August 2006 and September 2007 in Tswalu, South Africa, Beijing, and Washington, D.C., and which was co-sponsored by the Brenthurst Foundation, the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, the Council on Foreign Relations, and the Leon H. Sullivan Foundation.

Agenda
8:30 a.m.
Registration & Breakfast
9:00
Presenters:
Patrick Mazimhaka, Commission of the African Union
Joe Mollo, Corporate Diplomats
Michael Spicer, Business Leadership South Africa
Discussants:
Deborah Bräutigam, American University
Witney Schneidman, Leon H. Sullivan Foundation
Moderator:
Mauro De Lorenzo, AEI
11:00
Adjournment
Event Summary

September 2007

African Perspectives on a Rising China

The pace of Chinese economic and political engagement in Africa shows no sign of slackening. Why has China been so successful at building influence and gaining access to resources on the continent? What concerns do African governments have about Chinese modes of engagement? What opportunities does China offer, and are African states able to take full advantage of them? How might African relations with the United States and international financial institutions change as a result of Chinese policy? What effects do Chinese companies have on African investment climates? This event offered an unfiltered discussion of these important questions by a panel of senior African policymakers, analysts, and business leaders.
 
 At this AEI event, Patrick Mazimhaka, deputy chairperson of the Commission of the African Union and former minister in Rwanda; Joe Mollo, director of Corporate Diplomats and former ambassador of Lesotho to the UK and South Africa; and Michael Spicer, CEO of Business Leadership South Africa, made presentations. Deborah Bräutigam, associate professor of international development at American University and a leading expert on the history of Chinese engagement in Africa, and Witney Schneidman, senior advisor at the Leon H. Sullivan Foundation, placed the panelists' remarks in context. AEI resident fellow Mauro De Lorenzo moderated the discussion.

The African panelists also presented "Business Principles for a Strong Africa: An African View," a document prepared by the African delegation to the Africa-China-United States Trilateral Dialogue, which convened on three occasions between August 2006 and September 2007 in Tswalu, South Africa, Beijing, and Washington, D.C., and which was cosponsored by the Brenthurst Foundation, the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, the Council on Foreign Relations, and the Leon H. Sullivan Foundation.

Patrick Mazimhaka
Commission of the African Union (AU)

Africa has many different views on Chinese involvement in the area. Africa sees China primarily through two lenses: the AU and the Africa-China Cooperation Forum. While the AU has a clear policy towards China, the Forum provides an opportunity for leaders from both sides to gather and discuss relations. The main topics discussed between the two parties are appropriate foreign relations, investment through government and private sector, and participation in peacekeeping and humanitarian missions. Flexibility to develop common ground on important issues is needed for solutions to be effective. While African-Chinese cooperation has been improving, there is still room for Africa to take more ownership over development programs.

Joe Mollo
Corporate Diplomats

A practical demonstration of Chinese involvement in African can be seen by examining the country of Lesotho. China has made large investments in the African nation and it has brought mixed results. Chinese investors have come in large numbers and drastically contributed to job creation. While much has been gained, there are also many challenges that face both parties. There are complaints about the situation from both ends, including insufficient wages, poor working conditions, and low worker productivity. A major topic of concern has been the lack of spillover into other fields that Chinese investment has spurred.

Michael Spicer
Business Leadership South Africa

The "Business Principles for a Strong Africa" paper outlines where Africa stands today in a new era of development and what the continent can do to better integrate itself into the global economy. Globalization has created opportunities for development that the Africans can capitalize on if they are willing to adapt to the changing environment. There are six main principles for building a stronger and more productive Africa. The first two deal with how businesses themselves should act. Transparency levels and corporate governance must be raised and continent-wide principles of corporate behavior should be better applied. The second group of principles dictates the approach of the international community. Aid should be focused on facilitating growth and establishing Millennium Development Goals for competitiveness. The final two principles concern the actions of the African governments themselves, which should insist on bilateral trade agreements and work to become more competitive.

Deborah Bräutigam
American University

China looks at Africa as a continent of opportunity, not as a failure, and takes a longer-term perspective on its involvement in the area. There are several key features of Chinese involvement in Africa. Beijing has promised to double aid to the continent by 2009, increase finance for infrastructure, and set up a $5 billion development fund. However, there are also concerns raised by the African people, especially with regards to Chinese competition with local African businesses, labor and environmental standards, and issues of good governance.

Witney Schneidman
Leon H. Sullivan Foundation

There has been both agreement and divergence between the United States and China as to their respective roles in African development. Both countries realize that it is not a zero-sum game; both are important in African debt relief. It is the responsibility of the African nations, however, to seize upon the opportunities provided by both countries. Nonetheless, there is no consensus on the definition of good governance or the role that democracy, transparency, and the implementation of global codes should play. The trilateral talks have been effective discussions of African development that have built personal relationships between the delegates that will help foster confidence for further dialogues.

AEI intern Jess Nagro prepared this summary.

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