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Author Archives: Eric Olander

[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 »

[AUDIO] How China’s insatiable demand for timber threatens Congo’s rain forests

A series of powerful forces, continents away from one another, are conspiring to devastate the vast rain forests that blanket the Democratic Republic of the Congo. There are trees in those forests whose wood is particularly celebrated in China for its color and durability. With the Chinese middle class continuing to expand, the demand for higher quality products, such as furniture, is ... Read More »

[AUDIO] Chinese tourist arrivals in Africa are up, so why aren’t African travel companies more excited?

Africa is becoming an increasingly popular holiday destination among adventure-seeking Chinese tourists. The numbers of visitors who went to Africa in 2016 was up sharply due to looser visa restrictions and new direct flights between China and Ethiopia, Kenya and South Africa among other popular destinations. Chinese arrivals in South Africa alone were up 93% last year. You’d think this would be great news for Africa’s ... Read More »

[AUDIO] How Taiwan Became a Divisive Wedge Issue in South Africa

South Africa’s opposition party, the Democratic Alliance (DA), now sees the ruling African National Congress (ANC) party’s close ties to China as a vulnerability that the DA aims to exploit. Evidence of this new strategy came in December when the DA mayor of Pretoria, Solly Msimanga, made an independent trip to Taiwan, sparking immediate outrage from the Chinese government, the South African ... Read More »

[AUDIO] How Donald Trump could give China a real boost in Africa

The election of Donald Trump has introduced a new era of uncertainty in global politics, especially in Africa where the president-elect has said nothing about his foreign policy agenda for the continent. Not surprisingly, Trump’s unpredictable, provocative-style is sparking widespread concern across the continent as to whether the United States plans to remain engaged in Africa. China, by comparison, is moving in the opposite ... Read More »

China’s Plan To Ban Ivory Sales Will Not Save Africa’s Elephants

Hooray! The Chinese government finally came to its senses and announced that after 2017 it will no longer be legal to sell or trade ivory. Today’s announcement was long overdue and highly anticipated, particularly among Western wildlife conservationists pegged a Chinese ivory ban as the last best hope to save what’s left of Africa’s rapidly shrinking elephant population. China is by far the world’s ... Read More »