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Grappling with African Success

Rwandan President Paul Kagame delivering the keynote address during the opening of the 2nd China-Africa Economic and Trade Expo in Changsha, Hunan.

This week saw the second China-Africa Economic and Trade Expo, held in Changsha, the capital of China’s Hunan province. As we’ve covered over the last few years, the city is rapidly emerging as a hub of Africa-China trade. It houses a new cocoa trading facility and is a destination for other African agricultural commodities. As an estimated $16 billion in deals were being signed, African commodities like pepper and butter sold out in minutes via live-streamed sales sessions, even as Chinese coffee chains are already planning to market African products to China’s growing coffee market.

The Expo is fascinating for many reasons, not least how it reveals the complex interaction between the Chinese central government and provincial governments in relation to Africa. The Expo was announced by President Xi Jinping at FOCAC in 2018 and was attended by Yang Jiechi, one of China’s most senior foreign policy officials. This approval at the highest level dovetails with provincial government plans to position Hunan not only as a center for African trade but also as a BRI hub.

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