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October 30, 2014

Reporting Resources

The following are resources about China-Africa relations for journalists. Not comprehensive by any means, they offer an introduction to understanding Africa’s engagement with China, a point of entry. The database includes government websites, blogs, think tanks and research projects, journals, and a few books. The database, compiled by Jana Mundronova & Raymond Mpubani is a work in process and reflects current developments in the field.


Forum on China Africa Cooperation 
The Forum on China Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) was established in 2000 to integrate and coordinate China’s economic and cultural exchanges with Africa. Its necessity arose because of the many Chinese state organs doing business with Africa: the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Commerce, the State-owned Assets and Supervision and Administration Commission of the State Council (Sasac), the State Council, and China’s 31 provinces, special administrative regions, autonomous regions, and municipalities. Five FOCAC forums bringing together Chinese and African leaders, policymakers, businessmen and journalists have been held since 2000.

China- Africa Development Fund 
The China-Africa Development Fund was established in 2007 by the China Development Bank to finance investment by Chinese companies in Africa. The fund grew out of a commitment by the Chinese President at the third FOCAC summit in Beijing, with setting up a China-Africa development fund the third of eight commitments.


China Foreign Aid White Paper 
China has released two white papers detailing its foreign aid.  The latest, released in July 2014, show that just over half of China’s foreign aid – 51.8% - in the three years to 2012 went to Africa.

 Aid Data 
A partnership between two American Universities, Aid Data tracks development finance using data from donor agencies and multilateral organisations. China however does not report its development finance under existing global sources, and therefore Aid Data resorted to open-source the information. It relies on “journalists, scholars, government officials, business professionals, and local community stakeholders” for its database. The website uses interactive tools and maps to provide information on official development aid by China. You can search by country and by projects.


The South Africa Institute of International Affairs (SAIIA)
SAIIA, founded in 1934 and headquartered at the University of the Witwatersrand, is considered the best think tank in Africa. It occasionally publishes research on current issues concerning Africa, among others. SAIIA has released a number of policy briefings, occasional papers and books about China’s engagement with Africa. It has a China-Africa project, headed by noted China-Africa scholar, Professor Chris Alden, with a team of five experts. You can also access a rare collection of books and journals in its free-entry library at the physical establishment.

Centre for Chinese Studies (Stellenbosch University) 
The Centre for Chinese Studies is arguably the first and only research establishment exclusively focused in China-Africa research on the African continent. It is a good source for academic research as well as lighter reading laid out in The China Monitor Journal and discussion papers. Resources are archived back to 2009 when the center re-focused from a cultural mission to a research agenda. Apart from commissioned researches that are not openly accessible, the Centre publishes all its output online.

The South African Foreign Policy Institute (SAFPI) 
SAFPI generates a lot of content on the intersection of South African/Africa international relations engagements and values such as governance and creation of a fair, equitable world order. SAFPI is a programme of the Open Society Foundation for South Africa (OSF-SA) in Cape Town. One of the relations the organization focuses on is China-South Africa-Africa relations. This site is particularly valuable for those looking for information on policy formulations and implementation.

China-Africa Knowledge Project Resource Hub 
This resource hub publishes the work of the Social Science Research Council’s China-Africa Knowledge Project, which brings together scholars in different disciplines whose work is on Africa’s relations with China and Asia.

China Africa Research Initiative 
This research institute is affiliated with John Hopkins University led by renowned China-Africa scholar, Deborah Brautigam. A great source of current debates and data-driven analysis.

Brookings Institution: U.S.-China-Africa Relations 
The project by the world’s pre-eminent think tank looks at foreign policy, natural resource management, trade and investment, and aid and development policy approaches by the United States and China to sub-Saharan Africa. It occasionally publishes research, briefings and blog posts by its panel of experts, and also aggregates relevant reporting around those topics.

Oxford University China Africa Network (OUCAN) 
Because this network is based at Oxford University, a good number of the budding and experienced experts are based at this university or in the UK. However, the network also has members from around the world.

 Centre for International Forestry Research
The centre has a specific project on Chinese investment in African countries, not only in forestry, but also in related sectors; mining, agriculture; and sustainable development.


China in Africa: The Real Story
John Hopkins University Professor Deborah Brautigam is widely recognized as the foremost scholar on China. The kicker for her blog, digging into the myths and realities, is no hollow promise. Here you will find nearly all her work, tap into her arguments on China-Africa issues as they evolve, and read the perspectives of visiting bloggers. You may pick the research ideas section for stories ideas.

The China Africa Project 
Run by veteran journalist, Eric Olander, this multimedia platform is a treasure trove. As one of the pioneer resources to rely on digital media, the project has an archive of content covering most topics in the field. The platforms benefits from the personal dedication of Olander, who brings his social and digital media skills, coupled with a two-decade experience with global broadcasters. The site has original reporting, interviews with prominent China-Africa scholars and articles published in other media. Particularly interesting is the weekly podcast hosted by Olander with Dr. Cobus van Staden of Wits University.

This is one of the few sites that have both an English and Chinese version. The site is an extension of The Carter Center in governance issues in China. It seeks to give voices to opinions on China-Africa relations. is probably the biggest repository of articles on the China Africa story, but one would need to navigate the site with a bit of rigor to locate articles of interest.

Cowries and Rice 
A blog by Winslow Robertson who has a background in West African history, and also specialises in Sino-Africa relations. It’s aim is to look for and present “the sometimes unexpected connections between China and the countries of Africa.”

Afrique Chine 
Aggregates reporting and research on China-Africa issues and relations.

Africans in China 
A blog by Roberto Castillo, a PhD candidate in Cultural Studies at Lingnan University in Hong Kong. It mostly focuses on Africans in Guangzhou province, China’s most popular destination for African traders.


China Perspectives 
China Perspectives Revue is an academic quarterly journal published in English and French in cooperation with the Asia Centre in Paris. Great publication for understanding internal dynamics in China related to environmentalism, urban studies, migration,

Introducing China- Africa discourse: 
A must-read piece by Large in which he reacts on bookshelves full of titles containing dragons, tigers, bush, safaris and ostriches in relation to Sino-African relations. He critically assesses implications of this limited and paternalistic language. Large calls for more nuanced reporting putting Chinese investment in perspective of that from Japan, India and other Asian countries.
Large, D. (2007). Beyond “Dragon in the Bush”: The Study of China-Africa Relations. African Affairs, 107(426), 45–61.

China and Africa: What the US doesn’t understand 
China’s presence in Africa put in perspective of the US engagement with the continent. The author wittily debunks myths of Chinese interest in oil only and addresses the West perception of victimized African state unable to counter China’s lucrative offers.
Proctor, K. (2013) China and Africa: What the US doesn’t understand. The Fortune Magazine. July 2 2013

The New Sinosphere: China in Africa (2006) 
A collection of essays on different issues in Sino-African relations by authors respected in the field. According to its abstract, it  looks at “China’s impact on trade and investment in the region - assesses recent trends in trade between China and Africa; argues as China continues to generate high rates of economic growth, it will continue to increase its market share in Africa; looks at challenges and risks posed by China’s growing investment role in Africa; highlights some of the important benefits that Africans could derive from this relationship in the areas of capacity building and the services sector.”

The voice of China in Africa: Media and Soft Power 
A 3-year collaborative research project between The Chr. Michelsen Institute (CMI) in Bergen, Norway, the Department of Media and Communication (IMK) University of Oslo, Norway; the Institute of Journalism and  Communication at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS); Instituto de Estudos Sociais e Economicos (IESE), Maputo, Mozambique; the Department of Journalism and Communication and the Department of Political Science and Public Administration, Makerere University, Uganda.  It seeks to analyse the interaction between China and Africa in the communication industries, media, and culture sectors.

Ecquid Novi: Africa Journalism Studies: Reporting China in Africa 
A special issue dedicated to China’s increased engagement with Africa, but focussing on the media. It looks at Chinese media in Africa, the framing of China-Africa issues in both Africa and China, and also at debates about cultural imperialism and soft power. A must-read for journalists.

Chinese companies in Africa 
Not all Chinese companies are state-owned, and not all of them are sent by the Chinese government to exploit natural resources or vast markets. Investigating the nature of the Chinese firms is important in order to understand their business strategies and (lack of) embeddedness into local market structures. Chris Alden and Martyn Davies look Chinese multinational corporations in SSA in perspective of their diverse business strategies.

Alden, C., & Davies, M. (2006). A profile of the operations of Chinese multinationals in Africa. South African Journal of International Affairs, 13(1), 83–96.

Making Sense of the China-Africa Relationship
A collection of twenty one think pieces recently published by the China-Africa Knowledge Project Resource Hub. They are very comprehensive in their scope, exploring the China-Africa relationship from popular scholarly angles.

China’s Special Economic Zones in Africa 
This scholarly article makes a crucial argument that understanding the effects of Chinese investments in Africa depends on governments of African countries. It examines efforts by the Chinese state to construct economic cooperation zones in Africa.
Brautigam, D., & Tang, X. (2011). African Shenzhen : China’s special economic zones in Africa. Journal of Modern African Studies, 49(1), 27–54

Private Chinese investment in Africa: Myths and Realities
A paper distinguishing between private and state-owned investments in SSA. It is a great resource for understanding the differences between Chinese companies and their destinations.
Shen, X. (2013). Private Chinese Investment in Africa Myths and Realities. Policy Research Working Paper no.6311. The World Bank

FOCAC Twelve Years Later: Achievements, Challenges, and the Way Forward 
A good overview of main mechanisms, structure and function of Forum on China Africa Cooperation. The paper includes history of FOCAC conferences, outcomes and commitments.
Li. A. et al. (2012). FOCAC Twelve Years Later. Achievements, challenges and way forward. SAFPI, discussion paper no. 74


China's Second Continent: How a Million Migrants Are Building a New Empire in Africa (2014) – Howard French
China is Africa’s largest trading partner. However, it is also the biggest supplier of immigrants to Africa, with over a million Chinese estimated to have settled in sub-Saharan Africa over the last two decades. Howard French, a journalist who has extensive knowledge of the continent from his days as a New York Times foreign correspondent, travels to several parts of the continent exploring this phenomenon. Published in 2014, this book is a gripping and informative read.

The Dragon’s Gift: The Real Story of China in Africa (2010) – Deborah Brautigam
Deborah Brautigam looks at China’s relationship from Africa going back to the 1960s. She debunks the widely held view that China is an exploiter, motivated by short-term gains in Africa. She argues that, instead, China’s interest in Africa is motivated by a desire to develop concrete and mutually beneficial economic and cultural linkages.

China and Africa: A Century of Engagement (2012) - David H. Shinn & Joshua Eisenman
This book contextualises recent China-Africa engagement with historical ties between the two parties, and delineates its evolution. It dissects contemporary ties between China and Africa on a country by country basis.

China in Africa: Partner, Competitor or Hegemon? (2007) – Chris Alden
Chris Alden, currently the head of SAIIA’s Global Powers and Africa Programme, asks a very popular question. He looks at relations between the two entities going back three decades, and cautions that we should analyse at the rich tapestry of those relations before reaching conclusions.

China and Africa: Engagement and Compromise (2006) – Ian Taylor
Ian Taylor writes about China’s historical relations with a number of Southern African countries: Angola, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, South Africa, Namibia, Zambia and Botswana, Lesotho, Swaziland, and Malawi.

Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon?: Africa and China (2008) – Kweku Ampiah & Sanusha Naidu (Eds)
A collection of essays about China’s policy in Africa by sixteen African academics, with case studies of nine African countries.

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