Follow CGSP on Social Media

Listen to the CGSP Podcast

The Honeymoon Between China and Africa Is Over and That's a Good Thing

It wasn’t that long ago when it was all smiles between the Chinese and Africans. Remember? The headlines were all about “win-win” development, China’s role in helping Africa to rise above its colonial past and investment, lots and lots of Chinese investment. Every year, trade between the two would surge to new, record highs. Those were indeed good days.

Now, things are different. A seemingly never-ending slump in commodity and oil prices is taking its toll on Africa’s export-reliant economies, prompting fears of a new, devastating debt crisis. Chinese trade and investment in Africa are also slowing as the PRC undergoes a profound economic transformation from being a manufacturing-led economy to one driven by services & consumption.

On the ground, in many parts of Africa, the Chinese are encountering new challenges. PRC peacekeepers are being swept up into the violent conflicts that ravage certain regions of North Africa, Chinese civilians have been the victims of terrorism and there is a growing sense, according to public opinion surveys, that the Chinese are becoming less and less popular on the continent.

While none of this sounds encouraging, a growing number of international policy analysts suggest this may actually be a very important next step in the China-Africa relationship where better, smarter policies emerge from these adversities. Jonathan S. Paris is one of those observers who is researching the rapidly changing Sino-African geopolitical landscape as part of a multi-year study entitled “The Future of China in Africa 2035.”

Paris is an accomplished global affairs scholar with expertise in the Middle East and Southeast Asia. He is Associate Fellow at the International Centre for the Study of Radicalization at King’s College London and a Senior Advisor to the Chertoff Group in Washington, D.C. He is also member of Chatham House in London and the Council on Foreign Relations in the US. Paris joins Eric & Cobus to discuss his current research and why moving on from the Sino-African honeymoon may not be such a bad thing.

About Jonathan Paris:

Jonathan-ParisJonathan Paris is a London-based specialist on regional political, security and development issues. A long-time Middle East analyst, he has been traveling to the region for 50 years and was a Middle East Fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York from 1994-2000. Mr. Paris moved to London in 2001 and began writing year-long studies of the future of Saudi Arabia, Iran, Pakistan, Europe and Africa. His current study, which brings him to Beijing and Shanghai in June 2016, is the Future of China in Africa 2035.

Jonathan Paris received his B.A. from Yale University in comparative political and economic systems (Magna Cum Laude, Phi Beta Kappa). He did his graduate work at Stanford Law School from 1975-78 where he studied Chinese law and society (including the barefoot doctor campaign) under Victor Hao Li, the first ethnic Chinese law professor in America. He practiced international law in Singapore from 1980-1983 where he focused on Indonesia, leading to the later co-authorship of his first book, The Politics of Post-Suharto Indonesia (CFR/Brookings 1998).

A former Senior Associate Member of St. Anthony’s College, Oxford and lecturer at Yale University Department of Political Science, he is currently a member of the Advisory Board of the Global Diplomatic Forum in London, Associate Fellow of the International Centre for the Study of Radicalization at King’s College London, and Senior Advisor to the Chertoff Group in Washington, D.C. He is a member of the IISS and Chatham House in London and the Council on Foreign Relations in the US.

What is The China-Global South Project?


The China-Global South Project 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-Global South stories. Updated 24 hours a day by human editors. No bots, no algorithms.


Diverse, often unconventional insights from scholars, analysts, journalists and a variety of stakeholders in the China-Global South discourse.


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