Recent newspaper reports in the West have claimed that some Chinese telecommunications firms, such as Huawei and ZTE, are helping some African governments spy on their citizens and limit access to the Internet. Observers also suggest that Beijing is helping African states establish the same antidemocratic control over the Internet that it champions at home. Gagliardone’s book provides a more measured account. He does not deny that a number of African governments have upgraded their ability to monitor and limit Internet activity with Chinese assistance. But he reminds readers that Chinese investments have also substantially improved Internet and phone access in many African countries. According to Gagliardone, Beijing has not attached political conditions to these investments and doesn’t privilege regimes that it favors.
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