Part of The Best Books of 2012 on Africa

China and Africa: A Century of Engagement

The increased Chinese attention to Africa has been one of the region’s big stories during the last decade, not least because it seemed to come just as the West was losing interest in the continent. Major investments by China’s state-controlled companies have been accompanied by the arrival of the million or so Chinese citizens working in Africa today and by a major diplomatic initiative that has sent numerous high-level Chinese government missions to African countries in recent years. Shinn and Eisenman’s book usefully situates these developments in a broad historical context, showing important areas of continuity with earlier Sino-African links. Their analysis does not break new ground in explaining Chinese motivations or the impact of Chinese policy on Africa, but it does describe in comprehensive detail the diplomatic, commercial, and security facets of the new Chinese presence, with sections on every African country. The book is particularly strong when clarifying the evolution of Chinese diplomatic and security strategies in the region.

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