KEY TAKEAWAYS
  • As China’s economic footprint has grown in Africa, so too have Cold War-esque warnings that the opaque nature of China’s financial dealings on the continent mask an effort to exert control over politics and resources.
  • Cold war goggles obscure the nuanced nature of China’s engagement with Africa; the agency of African nations and businesses to choose their own partners; and the opportunities that exist on the continent for non-Chinese investors.
  • Debt, while alleviated with a sweeping forgiveness by the West in 2005, has crept northward again, often propelled by opaque Chinese loans.

China’s economic engagement in Africa has expanded over the past two decades to encompass raw materials, agriculture, infrastructure and other business ventures once considered the near exclusive preserve of Western corporations and U.S.-dominated multilateral institutions. As Beijing’s footprint has grown, so too have Cold War-esque warnings that the opaque nature of China’s financial dealings in Africa mask an effort to exert control over the continent’s politics and resources.

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