In This Review

China Into Africa: Trade, Aid, and Influence
China Into Africa: Trade, Aid, and Influence
Edited by Robert I. Rotberg
Brookings Institution Press, 2008, 360 pp

China's evolving relationship with Africa has generated a great deal of hyperbole. This collection of essays separates the facts from the myths. Several chapters remind the reader that China is nowhere close to supplanting Africa's traditional diplomatic, aid, and trading partners in the West, despite its rapidly growing interests in the region. A sober chapter by Deborah Brautigam, for instance, calculates that total Chinese aid to the region in 2006 was only around half a billion dollars, compared to $30 billion from members of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. Another merit of the book is its attempt to place China's interest in Africa -- which goes back at least 50 years -- in its historical context. Excellent contributions by David Shinn on the military relationship, by Henry Lee and Dan Shalmon on Chinese energy interests in Africa, and by Martyn Davies on special economic zones in Africa that cater to Chinese investors emphasize how much long-term strategic planning has shaped China's current presence there. In comparison, Western foreign policies toward Africa seem short term in their focus and often improvised in response to specific events rather than strategically conceived.