Ed 's Reviews > The Dragon's Gift: The Real Story of China in Africa

The Dragon's Gift by Deborah Brautigam
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Mar 05, 2011

really liked it
bookshelves: africa
Read in March, 2011

The People's Republic of China do a lot right in their dealing with the developing states of Africa. When investing in a country or granting aid the Chinese don't make political demands; they don't insist the recipient nation reform its economy to better pay bondholders; they stay for as long is necessary to get a project running and hand it over to the Africans, always ready to return if necessary. The Chinese build what African nations want--a railroad, a stadium, an office building for the Foreign Ministry--these are they types of "wasteful" projects that the International Monetary Fund and World Bank won't even consider. And commercial banks won't fund a project without the imprimatur of those transnational financial giants.

Technicians and executives from China work alongside their African counterparts. They live simply and frugally, often in barracks that they construct upon arrival. Managers and workers from the global North generally live in separate compounds, luxurious by African (or Chinese) standards and tend to supervise from afar--or at least as far as possible.

The Chinese are trusted because they aren't a former colonial power--indeed they can claim to be "post-colonial" themselves. They listen to what Africans want, even if those they are listening to are autocratic dictators. The Chinese drive hard bargains but do so in a businesslike fashion.

The future of Africa may well be in the East--the efforts of the United States and Western Europe have done little even after pouring billions of dollars in aid, debt cancellation and low interest loans into the same area.
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