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August 2, 2015

China-Africa news: Obama in Ethiopia, Zimbabwe’s woes, Yuan payments, China’s soft power push

Zimbabwe and China's tango. A senior Zimbabwe official is always visiting China; at least that is what it seems like, from media reports. And because this is China, the reasons for the trips are straightforward: money. Zimbabwe is broke, has been so for a long time, so its level of cosiness with one of its few rich "friends" is more intense than, say, South Africa and China. The Independent reports that the intention of a recent visit to Beijing by Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa was to bargain for a rescue package to help deal with a severe liquidity shortage. However, according to officials on the Zimbabwe delegation, China raised concerns about Zimbabwe's ability to pay back the money and fears about the country's management and direction.

Yuan payments rise in South Africa-China trade. A third of the payments between South Africa and China over the last one year were settled in Chinese Yuan. A year earlier the figure was 10.8%. The rise is down to a rise in bilateral trade and investment between the two countries, according to analysts.

Barack Obama visited Addis Ababa. Cue articles comparing Chinese and American investments in the country. Though China's footstep in the country is of late larger than America's, there is still a sizable American involvement in the country's economy.

Kenya and Chinese media coverage of Obama's trip. The Kenyans, unsurprisingly, tended to analyse the visit in an emotional and not-too-critical lens. The Chinese, meanwhile, were taking digs and pointing out that the African Union building Obama addressed a gathering in was built by them. The racist cartoon by the Global Times was overboard, though.

Bomb attack on Mogadishu hotel housing Kenya and China embassies. The attack, which left at least 13 people dead, was carried out by the al Shabaab Islamist group. A Chinese embassy security official was among the dead, while three Chinese nationals were among the injured.

What did South Africa's Communications Minister learn from China? “Through our bilateral relations with China, we’ve achieved a lot in terms of improving the lives of our people, but my view is that our media are not doing enough to share these stories of success with our people and the people of the world."

China pushes soft power. China's global profile has grown along with its exceptional economic growth. Well, great power comes with the need for a great reputation too. However, China's global perception is more negative than positive, and its leaders are very aware of that. David Shambaugh writes about the measures the Chinese state has taken to change that.

India's population to overtake China's by 2022. A UN report projects that India will be the world's most populous country within the next seven years. The report says the world's population is expected to reach 8.5 billion by 2030, 9.7 billion in 2050 and 11.2 billion in 2100. Most of that growth will come from India and Africa.

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