An exciting, hugely revealing account of China’s
burgeoning presence in Africa—a developing empire already shaping, and
reshaping, the future of millions of people
A prizewinning foreign correspondent and former New York Times bureau chief in Shanghai
and in West and Central Africa, Howard French is uniquely positioned to tell
the story of China in Africa. Through meticulous on-the-ground reporting—conducted
in Mandarin, French, and Portuguese, among other languages—French crafts a
layered investigation of astonishing depth and breadth as he engages not only
with policy-shaping moguls and diplomats but also with the ordinary men and
women navigating the street-level realities of cooperation, prejudice,
corruption, and opportunity forged by this seismic geopolitical development.
With incisiveness and empathy, French reveals the human face of China’s
economic, political, and human presence across the African continent—and in
doing so reveals what is at stake for everyone involved.
We meet a broad spectrum of China’s dogged emigrant
population, from those singlehandedly reshaping African infrastructure,
commerce, and even environment to those just barely scraping by, still
convinced that Africa affords them better opportunities than their homeland.
And we encounter an equally panoramic array of African responses: a citizens’
backlash in Senegal against a “Trojan horse” Chinese construction project; a
Zambian political candidate who, having protested China’s intrusiveness during
the previous election and lost, now turns accommodating; the ascendant middle
class of an industrial boomtown; African mine workers bitterly condemning their
foreign employers, citing inadequate safety precautions and wages a fraction of
their immigrant counterparts’.
French’s nuanced portraits reveal the paradigms
forming around this new world order, from the all-too-familiar echoes of
colonial ambition—exploitation of resources and labor, cut-rate infrastructure
projects, dubious treaties—to new frontiers of cultural and economic exchange,
where dichotomies of suspicion and trust, assimilation and isolation, idealism
and disillusionment are in dynamic flux.
Part intrepid travelogue, part cultural census, part
industrial and political exposé, French’s keenly observed account ultimately
offers a fresh perspective on the most pressing unknowns of modern Sino-African
relations: why China is making the incursions it is, just how extensive its
cultural and economic inroads are, what Africa’s role in the equation is, and
just what the ramifications for both parties—and the watching world—will be in
the foreseeable future. Download and start listening now!