China Returns to Africa

A Superpower and a Continent Embrace

Edited by
June 2008 9781850658856 400pp
Temporarily out of stock
June 2008 9781850658863 400pp
Temporarily out of stock


The geopolitical landscape of contemporary China-Africa relations has provoked wide media interest. After being conspicuously overlooked during the G8’s purported ‘Year of Africa’, the topic generated wider debate in the build-up to the China-Africa Summit in Beijing in 2006. Despite this, China’s deepening re-engagement with the African continent has been relatively neglected in academic and development policy circles. In particular, the concrete ways in which different Chinese actors are operating in different parts of Africa, their political dynamics and implications for African development as well as Western views of this phenomenon, have yet be explored in depth.”China Returns to Africa” responds to this need by addressing the key issues in contemporary China-Africa relations. Taking its cue from the widely touted ‘Chinese Scramble for Africa’ and the accompanying claim of a ‘new Chinese imperialism’, the book moves beyond narrow media-driven concerns to offer one of the first far-ranging surveys of China’s return to Africa, examining what this new relationship holds for diplomacy, trade and development.

Table of contents

Introduction: China Returns to Africa
Chris Alden, Daniel Large and Ricardo Soares de Oliveira


1. China’s Boom: What’s in it for Africa? A Trade Perspective
Andrea Goldstein, Nicolas Pinaud and Helmut Reisen

2. ‘Flying Geese’ or ‘Hidden Dragon’? Chinese Business and African Industrial Development
Deborah Bräutigam

3. Chinese Economic Diplomacy in Africa: The Lusophone Strategy
Ana Christina Alves

4. Making Sense of Chinese Oil Investment in Africa
Ricardo Soares de Oliveira

5. The Political Consequences of China’s Return to Africa
Denis M. Tull


6. China in Africa: After the Gun and the Bible: A West African Perspective
Adam Gaye

7. China’s Perspective on Contemporary China
Wenping He

8. China-Africa Relations: An Early, Uncertain Debate in the United States
Bates Gill, J. Stephen Morrison, and Chin-Hao Huang

9. French Perspectives on the New Sino-African Relations
Roland Marchal


10. Liberating Labour? Constructing Anti-Hegemony on the TAZARA Railway in Tanzania, 1965-76
Jamie Monson

11. Medicine as business: Chinese medicine in Tanzania
Elisabeth Hsu

12. Solidarity, Xenophobia and the Regulation of Chinese business in Nambia
Gregor Dohler

13. South Africa and China: A Strategic Partnership?
Garth Shelton

14. From Non-Interference to Constructive Engagement? China’s Evolving Relations with Sudan
Daniel Large

15. China in Angola: Just a Passion for Oil?
Manuel Ennes Ferreira

16. Mixed Fates of a Popular Minority: Chinese Migrants in Cape Verde
Jorgen Carling and Heidi Ostbo Haugen

17. Ten Caveats and One Sunrise in Our Contemplation of China and Africa
Stephen Chan

18. Africa without Europeans
Chris Alden

19. Fitting China In
Christopher Clapham

Conclusion: ‘All Over Africa’
Daniel Large



‘The editors of this hefty volume have assembled essays by 24 academics of a dozen nationalities, who possess exceptional knowledge of China’s operations in Africa. Successive chapters address such diverse subjects as the social influence of the 750,000-strong Chinese diaspora in the continent; Chinese medicine; the history of the disastrous Tanzanian railway; and, most important, the progress of Beijing’s drive to buy into oil and mineral resources the length and breadth of the continent. [The book] presents an impressive and balanced study of one of the most important developments in the modern world.’ — Max Hastings, The Sunday Times

‘China’s resurgence [in Africa] has to rate as one of the most striking developments of the early twenty-first century — this thorough and balanced study provides the right equipment with which to assess it.” — Philip Snow, author of The Star Raft: China’s encounter with Africa
‘This lively, timely and authoritative book is vital to understanding China’s expanding role in the economic and political life of Africa.’ — John Ryle, Rift Valley Institute and Bard College, NY

‘This collection [provides] a much needed antidote to the hysteria that grips a great deal of recent writing about China re-engagement with the continent […] the breadth of subject matter is matched by the wide array of writers […] This volume offers an atlas to those steering through the crosscurrents of the relationship.’ — The Africa Report

‘Perceptive and useful […] After furnishing valuable details on China’s national economic interests and motivations in Africa, and examining its own non-interference (or “no ties”) policy with respect to economic assistance, the book’s focus widens to geopolitics, building a layered picture of China’s designs in Africa. [The book] provides ample analysis for readers to derive their own informed conclusions.’ — Survival

‘China’s growing presence in Africa and African affairs is a much touted yet underexamined phenomenon. China Returns to Africa helps fill that gap. The editors have marshalled two dozen notable academic and policy experts to assess Chinese expansion on the continent, implications for African development, and Western perceptions. The result is 21 essays that provide an azimuth of understanding for the casual and expert observer alike […] The book does an estimable job of addressing polemic issues in an even-handed and lucid manner. […] a thoughtful book.’ — Cambridge Review of International Affairs

‘This is an original, timely, and balanced interdisciplinary collection which arguably marks the start of a second wave of studies of China and Africa.’ — The Round Table

‘A comprehensive overview of the topic. [The] chapters contained in this volume are illuminating, well written, and provide great insight into the nature, scope, and implications of China’s engagement with Africa […] an insightful collection [and] a highly recommended read, both for scholars looking for a comprehensive introduction to the China-Africa topic and for experts in search of in-depth perspectives and analysis.’ — African Affairs

‘The book presents an excellent overview of the Africa-China work, deepens some core aspects, and sharpens conclusions on policy and research.’ — Journal of African History

‘Although ambitious in terms of the range of material it covers, the volume succeeds in reconciling its parts into a coherent whole. It is a thoughtful attempt not only to deepen the current analyses [but also] to apply a more solid theoretical grounding to subject matter that has in the past largely been treated as exploratory research. This is an excellent read for scholars seeking a more nuanced set of perspectives regarding the nature of China-Africa relations.’ — Journal of Contemporary African Affairs


Chris Alden is reader in International Relations at the LSE.

Daniel Large is a researcher at SOAS, University of London.

Ricardo Soares de Oliveira is Associate Professor in Comparative Politics, University of Oxford, fellow of St Peter's College, Oxford, and fellow of the Global Public Policy Institute, Berlin. He is the author of Oil and Politics in the Gulf of Guinea and co-editor of China Returns to Africa, both of which are published by Hurst.

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