The Dragon’s Gift: The Real Story of China in Africa

In This Review

The Dragon’s Gift: The Real Story of China in Africa
By Deborah Brautigam
Oxford University Press, 2009
300 pp. $29.95

Brautigam situates the current relationship between China and Africa within a historical framework that goes back to the 1960s. Bucking the conventional wisdom that China's substantial increases in aid to the region are motivated by short-term commercial and strategic interests, Brautigam's lively and thoroughly documented account emphasizes that Chinese motivations are broader and more long term. The book starts with a revealing history of Chinese involvement in the region, beginning with agricultural and infrastructure projects in the 1960s. It outlines China's current aid activities and investments in the region, providing the most authoritative data available on both. The book's most intriguing argument is that China is genuinely interested in extending to Africa the lessons it learned from its own development and that what may appear to be crass commercial moves are actually the result of careful thinking about mutually beneficial activities. Brautigam is clearly impressed with what she views as the breadth and sophistication of China's Africa policy and contrasts it with the self-serving and nearsighted thinking of the West's.

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