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The News Feed is a curated selection of the most important China-Africa news edited by CAP’s editors in Asia and Africa.

Africa's Vital Role in China's Drive to Triple Nuclear Energy Output

China is pursuing an ambitious plan to triple its nuclear energy output by 2020, from 2% of the country's total energy supply to 6%. Beijing's nuclear power agenda is part of the government's broader agenda to reduce carbon emissions that is contributing to staggeringly high-levels of pollution in many of China's largest cities. To do so, the Chinese have embarked on a nuclear reactor building spree with some 20 new plants currently in development.

If China is going to rely more on nuclear power as part of its renewable energy strategy then it is also going to have to find a reliable supply of uranium to power all of these new reactors. Not surprisingly, Chinese energy officials have set their sights on Africa, specifically two of the world's largest sources of uranium in Niger and Namibia.

Until now there has been relatively little research done on the impact that Chinese investment is having in Niger and Namibia's uranium mining sectors. Harvard doctoral student Peter Volberding and Dr. Jason Warner recently published a paper on the issue that examines whether the massive Chinese investments are potentially eroding sovereignty in these two African countries? Peter joins Eric & Cobus to discuss why there is not a simple answer to this complex question.


About Peter Volberding
Political science doctoral candidate at Harvard University with specific expertise in Chinese foreign policy, international relations, and international economic development. More specifically interested in the evolving roles and activities of national development banks (NDBs)--particularly in Germany, Brazil, and China--in the post WWII international economy, as well as the increasing use of financial instruments in development.

[COMMENTARY] 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 largest market for ivory where, until the end of 2017, five tons of ivory have been permitted to be sold every year. The problem is that demand for ivory in China averages somewhere around 100 tons annually and it’s been impossible to segregate the limited amount of legal ivory from the black market supplies that have flooded the market. With so much ivory circulating in China, according to critics, the demand for ivory products will remain strong which is why activists have spent years lobbying Chinese officials to eliminate this grey area with a total ban on all ivory sales.

The thinking here is that "when the buying stops, the killing can too” and while that catchy tag line is obviously very compelling in its simplicity, the reality is that China’s announced-ban alone will not be enough to stop this bloody trade. Well beyond 2017, China will likely continue to be a lucrative market for what will now be exclusively illegal ivory. Corruption and weak rule of law in China will act as lubricants among the highly-organized international crime syndicates who will easily import this illicit precious resource. Even if Chinese authorities are successful in cracking down, neighboring countries like Vietnam will also serve as new gateways for ivory traders to transit their cargo across the border.

The inability, and in some cases unwillingness, of governments in Kenya, Tanzania, South Africa and others to do more to root out corruption should become the new priority in the fight to save Africa’s increasingly vulnerable elephant community.

Just as a 30 year old “War on Drugs” in the United States did absolutely nothing to stem the flow of illegal drugs into America’s cities, there is little reason that a similar ban on a valuable product such as ivory will produce a different outcome in China.

Let’s also not forget that although China is far and away the world’s largest ivory market, it is by no means the only one. The ivory trade remains legal in Japan, the U.S. is the world’s second largest destination for illegal ivory and demand in emerging markets like VietnamThailand and other Southeast Asians is actually going up. Unfortunately, in so many of these countries, cracking down on illegal wildlife traffickers is not a high political priority, especially since there is evidence that senior government officials themselves are actually complicit in the trade.
Weak governance on environmental and animal conservation issues is not just a problem in Asia but also in Africa where sophisticated crime syndicates, working in collusion with corrupt officials, are believed to be behind the vast majority of elephant poaching on the continent. The inability, and in some cases unwillingness, of governments in Kenya, Tanzania, South Africa and others to do more to root out corruption should become the new priority in the fight to save Africa’s increasingly vulnerable elephant community.

I am personally thrilled that Chinese authorities have finally come to their senses to enact this historic policy to outlaw the sale of ivory. We should all commend President Xi Jinping and the State Council for enacting what is no doubt a controversial and difficult policy change given the significant cultural importance that ivory has had over thousands of years of Chinese history. Our celebrations, though, should be short-lived and expectations should be modest. For even in the short time that its taken me to write this post (less than an hour), two more elephants were violently murdered for their tusks. Long after China’s ban takes effect beginning in 2018, the killing will go on and so should the fight to save these beautiful animals.

For more information on China's role in the African ivory trade, please click herehereand here or listen to this interview with Peter Lafontaine from the International Fund for Animal Welfare on the implications of the proposed Chinese ivory ban:

What do Kenyans actually think of the Chinese in Kenya?

The following article was written by Cheng Lyu, Jinmeng Li, Zander Rounds and Lucy Liu of China House Kenya A lot has been made of the problems that Chinese companies and individuals ...

FOCAC 6: China At a Crossroads in Africa

The 6th Forum on China Africa Cooperation is coming at a crossroads in the China-Africa relationship. China’s shift from a manufacturing to a consumption economy means that it is importing fewer African commodities. On the African side, this shift has led to fears about repaying Chinese debt, and a general downsizing of African growth expectations. Coupled with a reported plunge in Chinese investment on the continent, the current situation seems to invoke warnings from the boom era, when figures as diverse as Lamido Sanusi and South African President Jacob Zuma called the relationship problematic and unsustainable.
However, being at a crossroads isn’t the same thing as being on a cliff. FOCAC 6 has the potential to move the China-Africa relationship to a more sustainable path. However, a more sustainable relationship will also require African governments to get out of their comfort zone.

Ivory: China was widely praised for announcing possible bans on the importing of ivory earlier this year. Since then, the world has waited impatiently for details and the enactment of actual policy. If Chinese leaders announce a comprehensive ivory ban at FOCAC 6, it will act as an acknowledgement that wildlife trade has become a central problem in China-Africa relations. Taking it seriously won’t only attack demand on the Chinese side, it could also force African governments to address their own lapses in governance that allowed poaching to flourish.

Investment: The 84% plunge in Chinese investment in Africa is indeed alarming. With it comes indications that the the fall pushed China back to its core investment strategy: African raw materials. Chinese investment in African minerals, metals and oil actually rose during the first half of 2015. That said, the shift towards domestic consumption has the potential to open up new forms of demand for African raw materials, which could fuel new investments. This is particularly true if Chinese customers embrace greener technologies that demand African rare earths and platinum. The challenge for African governments is finding a way to move beyond trading raw minerals.

Trade: While investment has plunged, Chinese trade with Africa is on the rise, despite its recent downturn. Trade is expected to hit $300 billion this year. While the influx of Chinese-made goods worry African producers, African consumers are gaining. This isn’t only good for African household budgets, it could be good for African societies generally. China exports cheap mobile phones and solar power generators. These two products alone can radically improve connectivity and power independence in societies wits faulty infrastructure. As China increasingly offshores production, this trade can lead to Chinese companies setting up manufacturing and assembly plants in Africa to serve African markets.

Analysis from Cobus van Staden

Lending Data Offers Clue to China’s Global South Influence

A new report led by the U.S.-based research center AidData is drawing global attention this week. It shows that from 2008 to 2021, China spent $240 billion in bailouts and liquidity support to 22 Global South countries.
Even though the report focuses squarely on economics, it also feels like a key piece of a geopolitical puzzle: how China’s Global South relationships work. As I’m writing this, U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris is ...

Postcards From Beijing: Defying Stereotypes in China

By Hannah Ryder, Deputy Country Director for China, United Nations Development Program
A few days ago I arrived in Beijing to begin a new job as deputy country director for UNDP China. In this job, I’ll be heading a team that advises the Chinese government and other Chinese counterparts such as businesses how to cooperate effectively with other countries and further develop their international positions on issues such as climate change and what comes after the Millennium Development Goals.
It’s my first week so I’m obviously still learning a lot about what my job will entail, but one thing is crystal clear… It will involve defying stereotypes.
The mere mention of China tends to invoke a lot of stereotypes. For example, typical blogs by people who visit China for the first time, from America to Jamaica – are often about how different Chinese food and culture is. The stereotype of Kenyans coming to China – such as myself – is that we’re coming to do business. And the stereotype of people coming to China who have worked in OECD aid agencies – again like myself – is that we are here to tell Chinese counterparts how to deliver aid "properly".
But China is a country that defies stereotypes. For example, in July this year, the Chinese government released its second ever White Paper on Foreign Aid. This extended China’s first Paper (published in April 2011) by providing detailed information about Chinese assistance to poorer countries over the three years from 2010 to 2012. Since the publication of the White Paper, my new team here at UNDP has been reviewing it, and their analysis can be found here.
One of the key messages that comes through in my team’s analysis is that while the stereotypical understanding of Chinese aid is big infrastructure projects built by Chinese companies, China has actually diversified the kinds of projects it is undertaking to support development. China has also broadened its partnerships – especially regional organizations such as the African Development Bank – and these diverse programmes are delivering real impact – from reducing the incidence of malaria to creating jobs. China is defying stereotypes to save lives in poorer countries.
Similarly, my team also point out that China’s practical approach to supporting development often differs from stereotypical approaches used by OECD aid agencies, even if the underlying principles are very similar. For example, China mentions in the White Paper how reducing trade tariffs for imports by poorer countries to China has contributed to their development. My fellow Kenyans that do business with China would certainly share this view, and although OECD country governments would too, very few OECD aid agencies actively report on changes in trade policy as means of delivering development (NB: In 2014 the UK was an exception – see Chapter 5 of the Department For International Development's Annual Report here).
This defiance of stereotypes is why I’m excited about the next few years in this job. I'll be advising my Chinese counterparts, but I’ll also be learning a lot and helping to defy stereotypes all over the world by providing better information and more understanding. I’ll certainly try to avoid those stereotypical blogs about food and culture!

How to Stop Ivory Trade with the Chinese Connection?

After investigating the Chinese connection with the ivory trade in Africa for the past three months, below is my own conclusion about how it is possible to break the Chinese-ivory link.
Experts have estimated that China is responsible for about 70% of world ivory market. Beyond statistics, I have witnessed it with my own eyes in Africa. In some countries the phenomena of Chinese buying/smuggling ivory is more prosperous, such as Mozambique; in some countries the level is very preliminary, such as Namibia. However, it is there without sign of weakening. The problem next is what could we do to stop it.
"You can't change them by moral appeal," a Chinese resident in Africa told me, those ‘blood-ivory campaigns’ are not going to work.
Somehow it is true. It is not accurate that Chinese people are all unconcerned about the disappearance of Africa’s elephants. However, when we consider Chinese education, it is those relatively affluent who have the most awareness on the issue while the vast majority of Chinese migrants in Africa are generally lower-class, less well educated. Given how difficult life is for many Chinese migrants in Africa, there’s now a widely-held perception that only the poor and desperate leave China and “if you have choices, you don’t come to Africa.”
There are basically two groups of Chinese people in Africa: the self-driven small businessmen --- most who do not speak English and possess only a primary-school level education. The second group often work for Chinese state owned enterprises (SOESs). This group tends to be much better educated than their working-class compatriots.
This composition of these two groups of Chinese migrants is the key to understanding the booming ivory trade in Africa. First, as not highly educated Chinese, this group has relatively low awareness about conservation; second, those Chinese who would come to Africa have their sole goal in minds: to make as much money in as short time as possible, therefore they are very active in seeking personal gains from the time in a place that many do not actually like.
So now that we recognize the problem, what can we do?
First, implement much stronger legal punishments and customs enforcement in both Africa and China. Most Chinese purchasing ivory in Africa are only buying a small amount, often thinking: "it is not difficult to get out of African customs (what’s the worse that can happen, pay a few bribes if I’m caught?), and in China, there is a very high chance that your contraband will not be found if you hide them well -- even if found, if the amount is less than one or two kilograms, just give them to the custom and you are fine." Therefore, in China, customs enforcement needs to become much stronger: the tolerance about ivory products should become "zero-tolerance" instead of "no punishment under the value of 10000 yuan" --- even if you just bring an ivory bangle, you should be fined heavily. Moreover, not only should the penalties should be raised, the intensity of searches should also be increased as well. On the African side, cracking down on widespread corruption among customs and government officials is what could help lead to major change --- although I think this will be more difficult to achieve than increasing the smuggling penalties on the Chinese side.
If both of the above are done, although there still would be a high level of smuggling by those who want to make a quick fortune, the huge number of small buyers' behavior would likely change significantly.
Second, the influx Chinese in Africa need to be better selected, registered and managed. From the host countries side, there should be certain thresholds of allowing Chinese to immigrate, especially to stay for long time. Such thresholds should be education, language skills, and a clean criminal background. There should also be a registration system of those Chinese so there is some record of illicit behavior. In China, there should be an immigration bureau (China does not actually have a formal immigration service as is common in many countries) to manage and register outbound Chinese. Moreover, Chinese embassies in Africa need to change their function from "service" to "management". For example, Chinese would have to register at their local embassy or else that embassy will not provide assistance or other services in the future. Therefore, Chinese in Africa could be managed by such a registration system managed by the Chinese government, which would ultimately improve the quality of the migrants that come to Africa by virtue of the higher-standards imposed.
Third, there should be programs to attract better-educated Chinese to Africa. In order to change the composition of Chinese in Africa, other than reducing the problematic ones, there should be ways to increase the number of skilled and educated migrants. Therefore, both African and Chinese governments should create incentives for highly-educated Chinese to come to Africa, perhaps by student exchange programs, salary bonuses or other kinds academic/professional fellowships.
Fourth, anti-poaching awareness campaigns should involve as well as target Chinese migrants living in Africa. Instead of broadcasting campaigns to Chinese back in China, campaign organizers need to engage the Chinese community on the continent and use them to influence others. Chinese in Africa often live in close-knit communities making it easier to reach a large number of people within that target demographic. In order to do so, NGOs should recruit some Chinese who already live in Africa to design and implement anti-ivory campaigns. Yes the market is in Mainland China, but without the Chinese in Africa, the transportation channel for that ivory would become much more complicated.
Over the past three months, I have seen a few of the Chinese who are better integrated into local communities, better connected with non-Chinese and who have generally assimilated themselves to the larger culture s--- and those people are much less likely to participate in ivory trade.
Finally, there should be more constructive cooperation of Chinese and African journalists. On one side, Chinese journalists are necessary for local media outlets to explore the "how" and "why" regarding the Chinese-ivory problems, like who are the players and what are they thinking, rather than simply exposing "what", like who has been caught smuggling how much contraband? On the other hand, African journalists could do more to help Chinese people understand what the consequences are of the ivory trade on all people, particularly Africans and Chinese. Even African journalists just feeding the Chinese media with more compelling elephant poaching stories would be helpful because it is rare that such stories make it into Chinese mass media.
Of course these things are always easier said than done, but after months of investigating this problem, including extensive on the ground interviews with both buyers and smugglers, I believe change can happen if some or all of these policy changes are implemented.

How to Understand Chinese-Related Environmental Problems in Africa

By Huang Hongxiang, Special to The China Global South Project
Rhino horn, ivory, shark fin, lion bone, abalone, pangolin, turtle, timber... You could make a really long list about the Chinese-related environmental problems in Africa. Why? Here's a primer on how to best understand the Chinese side of this increasingly important environmental problem:
First of all, we should look at the profit-risk balance of each specific product in question. Fundamentally, the root of the problem is that the profit far outweighs the risk for almost all of the products derived from African wildlife.
From my investigative experience, in order for an African natural product to become a Chinese-related environmental challenge, the bottom line is that there has to be enough demand from the Chinese side. Since China's market is so large, these controversial products can be used in any number of different ways ranging from food to medical to various commercial uses. Here's how it goes for Chinese consumers to determine the value of any of these wildlife-derived products:

  1. Is the demand big enough, which means enough Chinese people are willing to pay above market rates for the product in question?
  2. How dangerous it is to try to supply this demand, is it a worthwhile risk?

Depending on the answers of question 1 and 2, those challenges could be small scale or large, and Chinese could be active operators(ivory) or passive receivers (rhino horns). Indeed, Chinese are very risk-sensitive. Based on the nature of Chinese culture, it is easy for them to take advantages of loop-holes in the law, but not easy to become serious life-threatening criminals (which is why my undercover investigation among Chinese communities is not as dangerous as many non-Chinese think). Most of them would tell you: "cha bian qiu (in grey area of law) is ok, but we don't want to commit a crime."
Let's take rhino horn as the first example. There is demand for rhino horns in China. However, the demand is far less than in Vietnam and where it is mistakingly believed to be a life-saving treatment for cancer and other terminal illnesses. This fuels the demand for rhino horn among a few rich and desperate patients, which is ultimately a small but highly lucrative market. And the risks of involving in rhino horns are very high --- you could be easily put in jail. Therefore, today most Chinese have quitted rhino horn business and left the space for Vietnamese.
But ivory is different. Although the per kg value of ivory is far less than rhino horns, the demand from Chinese side is more about ornaments, souvenirs, art, rather than life-saving medical treatments, which means the market size is huge. Moreover, the risk of smuggling small scale ivory is extremely low: you may have some trouble with African customs and need to pay a bribe, your ivory may be confiscated both in Africa or in China. However, considering the potential value of ivory in China, the relatively low price of ivory in Africa, and the unlikely heavy law punishment, smuggling small scale ivory becomes an extremely profitable business.
Secondly, we need to understand what kind of Chinese people we are talking about. People easily think Chinese in Africa are one group of people, which is a vast oversimplification. Not all Chinese smuggle ivory regardless of the profit to risk ratio.
"If a Chinese has other ways to thrive, he would not have come to Africa," a Chinese businessman in Maputo explained to me. He used to have successful small business in a rural town of China. But he lost everything because of gambling. In order to make money and look for new personal development, after hearing stories about easy riches in places like Angola, he went there in what was his first ever trip abroad. He arrived without any foreign language skills in either English or Portuguese. Nonetheless, like thousands of other Chinese migrants, he started small and began to build his wealth, one project at a time. First he started as a helper for another Chinese businessman, where he lived in terrible conditions. Still, despite the hardships, he learned from his fellow migrants and pulled himself out of his once desperate conditions. Nowadays, he sells solar panels in Maputo, while at the same time managing a guesthouse business, crocodile belt business and a few other small enterprises that generate additional income.
This gentleman's profile is typical of the kind of Chinese migrant that often contributes to environmental problems in Africa: poorly educated, mostly from rural or a third tier city background, barely speaks a foreign language or  understands foreign cultures. Ultimately, this individual solitary focus is about making money, often to send to his family back home. However that happens, it often doesn't matter to this kind of individual.
When we are talking about Chinese investment in Africa, actually we are talking about two kinds: large scale investment made by Chinese companies (mostly national) and private businesses (usually small scales but sometimes could be large as timber business and real estate). The former one usually concentrates more in energy, mining, construction; the latter one would be more related to seafood, timber, real estate, import & export.
And the Chinese businessman we mentioned above belongs to the latter one. As long as the profit is higher than the risk, this group of people is likely to engaged in illegal business, and issues like the environment is just not a priority. So in the ivory business, these are the kinds of individuals who often operate behind the scenes.
But even the first group, which consists of Chinese expatriate employees, environmental issues can also arise. Since an assignment in Africa is far from the first choice for most of employees of Chinese state owned enterprises operating in Africa, these companies are usually fail to attract the most educated or successful college graduates. Despite the fact that most of the managers of Chinese companies do have university degrees, and they are definitely more educated than those in the second group, they are still far from the most well educated. It would be very difficult to find any graduates of the prestigious Beijing University or US ivy-league universities among the Chinese management ranks operating in Africa.
And... as if often the case... an individual's economic, academic and cultural background frequently influences his/her worldview, values and behavior.
It is worthy to notice as well, in some cases some highly educated Chinese would come to Africa as the leaders of Chinese national companies, and today more and more highly educated young Chinese start to come to Africa. They are the ones who are going to change the Chinese-in-Africa situation. However, currently they can't change the group atmosphere of Chinese in Africa.
Thirdly, we need to understand what the Chinese experience in Africa.
Most Chinese in Africa would complain to you that local Africans are greedy, irresponsible and lazy.
Most Chinese in Africa would complain to you that the government is so corrupt and the police always make trouble in order to extract bribes.
Most Chinese in Africa would complain to you that the cities they stay (even capitals) are so underdeveloped and there is nothing to do here and it is too dangerous to go out.
Most Chinese in Africa come to Africa not because they like Africa, but because they want to make money. In such situation, how could you expect them to care about sustainable development of African countries? If you can't make them like Africa, you can't make them care about Africa.
Moreover, from their experience, most Chinese would think it is the local black people who are ruining their countries. Therefore, since the locals are ruining their countries anyway (such as cutting down all the trees to sell to Chinese timber companies), it is not their responsibility to correct such social problems. Instead, they are just making money out of a dying tree --- as everyone else is doing.
The nature of business, the nature of people, the nature of environment, those are the levels we need to understand China-related environmental challenges in Africa.
This investigation by the Oxpeckers Centre for Investigative Environmental Journalists was supported by the Forum for African Investigative Reporters and the Wits China-Africa Reporting Project
This post was edited for grammar and style by Eric Olander.

How Social Media Impacts China-Africa Relations and Migration

By Jinghao Lu and Cobus van Staden

Why is the Internet so important in the lives of Chinese migrants to Africa? Many scholars have pointed out that the Chinese employees of Chinese enterprises in many African countries are willing or encouraged to live an isolated lifestyle away from interaction with the local community. As compensation, the companies usually provide fast internet connection allowing the Chinese staff to download video and to stay in contact with their families at home.

If online communication becomes many Chinese workers’ only outlet outside of their work community in Africa, scholars should pay more attention to the role the internet and social media play in shaping the Chinese migration to Africa. However, the main barrier to conducting extensive research on this topic is language, as Mandarin is the major language used by the Chinese internet users, or so-called netizens.

Understanding the unique social media tools Chinese netizens use is also important. Due to the fact that Facebook, Twitter and YouTube are not available in China, a number of products were developed to specifically accommodate more than 500 million Chinese internet users. Tools such as Tencent QQ (including QQ instant message, QQ Groups), Sina Weibo, Renren, and many topic-oriented web forums are used by many Chinese workers in Africa.

In February, we (Jinghao Lu and Cobus van Staden) conducted initial research on how internet forums influence the decision made by many Chinese to travel to Africa. This research was published in the African East Asian Affairs, (Issue 1, March 2013), published by the Centre for Chinese Studies at Stellenbosch University. In our research, we try to categorize the general conversation topics on Chinese web forums used by the Chinese communities in Africa or related to Africa.

We revealed three broad themes in the Chinese netizens’ discussions about Africa.

  1. Business Information Exchange

The most popular use of social media by Chinese entrepreneurs in Africa is to produce, source or integrate business information relating to Africa. The huge business potential shown by many African economies has attracted hundreds of thousands of Chinese entrepreneurs seeking opportunities to fill gaps in the market. Social media is playing a crucial role in creating links among Chinese traders in Africa. Tencent QQ and Alibaba (a leading e-commerce platform for small businesses around the world) are two of the most widely used web tools for manufacturers or wholesalers in China to look for, negotiate and partner with Chinese merchants overseas.

A list of some main themes of business-related conversations on those Chinese web forums includes:

Seeking Collaboration and Partnership: Chinese buyers and sellers use the web forums to seek partnership in the context of China-Africa trade and commerce. The products range from textiles to electronics and building materials. In most of the cases, conversations initiated on the web forums will continue through buyers and sellers exchanging their QQ numbers, which allows the negotiation to be conducted in private.

Introducing Business Models: Chinese web forums provide a platform for businesspeople to learn from each other through discussing business models and techniques, including handling customs, transferring money / remittances, avoiding fraud and dealing with local authorities. Even Chinese illegal miners in Ghana use Chinese web forums to share their experience, stories[1] and ways to operate[2] the small-scale illegal gold mines.

Hiring and Job-seeking: Chinese web forums have served as a de facto job portal for recruiters and job seekers to find each other.

African News: A number of Chinese web forums are dedicated to updating and translating news about African macroeconomic environment, investment opportunities, government policies and local sentiments towards the Chinese communities.

  1. 2.     Perception Towards Africa and Africans

Due to cultural and language gaps and a lack of opportunities to socialize, life in Africa is typically not easy for recent Chinese migrants. Therefore sharing personal experiences and feelings online has become an important part of their social life. Some of the main topics shared on Web forums, QQ and Weibo are listed below:

Perception of Africans: On web forums, a number of Chinese have posted threads complaining about the living environment, security issues, difficulties they experience in managing African workers and other culture-related issues. These sentiments generally receive a lot of support from other Chinese, who chime in with similar experiences.

Interracial dating and marriage: In recent years, an increasing number of threads have started to reveal an important new phenomenon relating to the lives of the Chinese community in Africa – dating and marriage with Africans. Threads dedicated to such topics often attract a lot of discussion. Sometimes they develop into fierce arguments on whether a relationship with an African is reliable and long-lasting.

  1. Tourism related Information Share

To the majority of Chinese readers Africa is a continent of desert, forest, traditional civilization, poverty, disease, warfare and corruption. Web forums allow Chinese travelers and residents in Africa to upload photos and to share their travel stories with a wider readership that desires to read about the realities in Africa. These stories, from the beautiful scenery of South Africa[3] to local women in Ethiopia[4] and traditional African festivals[5], have encouraged more Chinese travelers to explore the continent. Some Chinese travelers also launch threads to seek travel companions. A number of Chinese tourist companies have started to utilize web forums to promote their travel packages to Africa. The role these forums play in stimulating travel to Africa presents many opportunities for future research.

PS 1: A list of Chinese internet forums we surveyed

  1. Baidu PostBar[6]

Baidu is the largest Chinese-language search engine in the world. Baidu PostBar (or Baidu Tieba), allows its users to create a bar (forum) by typing a keyword. The largest bar related to Africa on Baidu is the “Africa Bar”, but country-related bars such as “Tanzania Bar” and “Ghana Bar”, also host a many threads and discussions.

  1. Tianya Club[7]

Tianya Club is a popular Chinese web forum with one of the most vibrant online communities in China. By January 2013 there were more than 78,297,000 registered users on Tianya. Tianya has the reputation for hosting fierce debates on Chinese social issues and international relations. Its sub-forum “Africa” contained 3,040 threads with 53,758 posts by 6 February 2013.

  1. Chinese in Africa[8]

"Chinese in Africa" is a web forum with more than 65,000 threads and more than 80,000 members by 2013. The forum was especially active in 2007-08, but since 2010 the volume of the threads and responses has declined. However, it contains records of a large number of conversations documenting the lives, feelings, experiences and business interaction among the Chinese in Africa. The forum is divided into different sub-forums dedicated to topics such as "Life in Africa", "Business Opportunities", "Job-seeking", "Touring in Africa", and contains region-specific forums such as "West Africa", "East Africa” and “Southern Africa”.

  1. Qufeizhou[9]

Qufeizhou is targeted to Chinese who intend to go to Africa, or has been living or working in Africa. Launched in 2011, the forum is relatively new, but offers an integrated platform containing news, country-specific information about Africa, business, entertainment and opportunities to make friends. By January 2013, there were more than 25,000 members in the community.

  1. Fob Business Forum – Africa Market[10]

The Africa sub-forum of the Fob Business Forum has generated over 10,000 threads dedicated to information about trade and investment in many African countries. Topics frequently discussed include trade procedures, dealing with African merchants and companies and sharing personal stories.

  1. Sohu[11]

Sohu’s Africa Circle mainly contains stories and pictures of unique culture and scenery in Africa.

  1. Country-specific forums

The relative size of the Chinese communities in particular African countries such as Ghana[12], Nigeria[13], Tanzania[14] and South Africa[15], has led to the development of country-specific web forums. These forums are not exclusive to those who live in these countries. For instance, the “Chinese in Nigeria” web forum has become an important online community for Chinese across West Africa to exchange information and opinions.

Former Kenyan PM: Africa Must Set Terms of China's Engagement

Former Kenyan Prime Minister and current MP Raila Odinga addressed a full house plus overflow at the Woodrow Wilson Center in Washington, D.C., Tuesday, June 18.
Odinga’s talk addressed many issues including Chinese involvement on the continent as well as Africa’s role in the world economy and the advancement of the African Union.
In regards to China’s trading presence in Africa, Odinga did not see it as threatening when Africa controls the operation. The Chinese, he said, are ready to help and Africans should be prepared to accept such help as long as it’s on Africa’s terms.
“I think governments in Africa should define the relationship with China,” he said, “because China is, of course, interested in a number of things in Africa.”
Odinga said petty trade or buying and selling of small (petty) goods should be reserved for Africans. The Chinese, he said, should not control what goes on in African markets.
“We’re not going to import retailers,” he said, “people who are coming here with textiles and so on to come and sell here because we also have got an abundant labor force in our country, which is able to do all this petty trade in our country.”
African raw materials, Odinga said, are of high interest to foreign investors, China included. However, these resources are of no use to Africa “unless they are exploited and used for development.”
In essence, Odinga wants to see Africa take charge, not just in its trade operation and relations with China, but in many areas. Odinga referred to himself as an “Afro-optimist.” According to Odinga, Chinese involvement is welcome, but Africa should be the party leading the conversation on the continent and not relegating itself to casual observer.
“Africa needs technology. Africa needs to develop its infrastructure,” he said. “China is ready to come [to Africa] and help develop infrastructure, but it must not be at China’s terms. It will be at Africa’s terms.”

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