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Thierry Pairault on What China Really Wants From Africa

File image of China's President Xi Jinping (C) speaks as South Africa's President Cyril Ramaphosa (L) and Equatorial Guinea's President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo (R) look on, during the Forum On China-Africa Cooperation - Round Table Conference at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on September 4, 2018. Lintao Zhang / POOL / AFP

French media and scholars have long struggled to understand the nature of Chinese engagement in Africa, often framing the issue in the context of their own brutal colonial past on the continent. Much of the discourse on the topic in France is whether China is the “new colonial power in Africa” and, for the most part, it doesn’t go beyond that.

Thierry Pairault, a longtime China-Africa scholar who is emeritus research director at the National Center for Scientific Research, is among the few French scholars who regularly seek to dispel many of the deeply entrenched myths about China’s policies and activities in Africa.

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