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This Is What Twitter Data Tells Us About the Worst Week in China-Africa Relations

Last week, the world witnessed a defining moment in China-Africa relations. Amidst fears of healthcare and economic collapse in Africa, the unified voice of Africans against the reported maltreatment of Africans in China on social media became a forceful agent in diplomatic affairs between the two parties. An engagement typically defined by closed-door agreements between government officials became distinctively public and elevated.

Eric Olander of The China Global South Project called the fallout that week “An Unprecedented Rapture in China Africa Relations”, citing tweets from grieved Africans under the trending hashtag, #ChinaMustExplain. Simon Marks at Politico similarly proclaimed that Coronavirus [had ended] China’s honeymoon in Africa and Cobus van Staden, a senior researcher at the South African Institute of International Affairs, explained that “Africa’s official response [to its citizens in China] took into account popular sentiment a lot more than it usually would have”.

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What is The China-Africa Project?


The CAP is passionately independent, non-partisan and does not advocate for any country, company or culture.


A carefully curated selection of the day’s most important China-Africa stories. Updated 24 hours a day by human editors. No bots, no algorithms.


Diverse, often unconventional insights from scholars, analysts, journalist and a variety of stakeholders in the China-Africa discourse.


A unique professional network of China-Africa scholars, analysts, journalists and other practioners from around the world.