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Author Archives: Eric Olander

[PODCAST] The UN’s role in China’s African development agenda

For decades, the aid and development sectors in Africa have been dominated by Western countries who have channeled billions of dollars through international organizations like the World Bank, IMF and the United Nations. Today, amid anemic economic growth in the U.S. and Europe combined with surging anti-globalism, those once generous development budgets are now in jeopardy. Largely immune from the populist ... Read More »

[AUDIO] The Hopes and Despair of African Migrants in China

Unlike the United States and countries in Europe, China has never been regarded as a popular destination for economic migrants. Today, that is no longer the case. China’s four-decade long economic boom is now a magnet for immigrants, particularly from Africa. The Guangzhou Dream Factory is a new documentary produced by a pair of American filmmakers that explores the promise ... Read More »

[AUDIO] Why U.S. & Chinese Foreign Policy Are More Alike Than You Might Think

When Xi Jinping visited Donald Trump this week at the U.S. president’s Florida estate for their first face-to-face meeting, many of the photos of the two leaders together conveyed a sense of awkwardness. After all, Trump represents a new generation of volatile, populist western leaders that Xi may still be learning how to engage. For his part, Trump is also learning that it’s a lot easier ... Read More »

[AUDIO] Who’d you rather work for in Kenya: a U.S. or Chinese company?

Chinese companies, generally, have a terrible reputation in Africa when it comes to labor relations. There are widely-held perceptions PRC firms are often abusive, insensitive and generally have a poor track record when dealing with African employees. Reports of human rights violations at Zambian mines, late pay for Kenyan railway workers and poor treatment of construction crews in Cameroon are just a few examples of the kinds of infractions that ... Read More »

[AUDIO] China spends billions in Egypt to woo the ‘Arab Street’

Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz’s recent state visit to Beijing is the latest evidence that China is manuevering to play a bigger role in the Middle East and Persian Gulf. The two countries reportedly signed deals worth upwards of $65 billion during the summit. Beijing’s plans for the region, though, extend far beyond just doing business and the Saudi kingdom. Any country that vies ... Read More »

[AUDIO] Donkey hide is the new ivory for the Chinese in Africa

It will likely not come as a surprise to many that once again Chinese consumer demand is responsible for another animal crisis in Africa. Chinese companies don’t want these donkeys for their meat, just the hides that are used as an ingredient in a traditional Chinese medicine known as ejiao (阿胶) which is used to treat a number of different ailments from ... Read More »

[AUDIO] Chinese media’s African identity crisis

The Chinese Communist Party-controlled international television news broadcaster CGTN (China Global Television News) faces a seemingly-irreconcilable dilemma. While the network positions itself as an alternative to the dominant global channels like CNN, BBC and Al Jazeera, CGTN also has a separate, arguably more important mission as the voice of the party that must always adhere to “core socialist values” according to mandates set by ... Read More »

[AUDIO] Get Ready Africa, the Big “Trump-Shift”​ to China is Coming

Over a month into his presidency, Donald Trump has yet to utter a single word about his foreign policy vision for Africa. Given that the combative president has picked fights with Mexico, Australia and, of course the Chinese, while making antagonizing other long-term allies like the Swedes with false information, a lot of African leaders may actually be relieved that their countries and continent are ... Read More »

[AUDIO] The hollow rules governing China-Africa investment

Even though China is one of Africa’s largest investors, ranked seventh overall according to Ernst & Young, there are surprisingly few rules that govern private-sector investments between these two regions. These rules are established through bilateral investment treaties, or BITs, where two countries agree upon a set of standards for corporate investment. While these BITs are popular in Europe and the U.S., ... Read More »

[AUDIO] Is China a partner or predator in Africa (or both)?

Depending on who you speak with, China’s engagement in Africa is often described in extreme terms as either the best thing to happen to the continent in the post-colonial era or just the latest foreign predator coming to pillage Africa of its resources. With China’s presence in Africa now stretching across nearly all 54 countries where an estimated one million Chinese immigrants now live and hundreds of billions ... Read More »