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China-Africa Relations in 2020: Perceptions and Realities

Just by looking at social media and news coverage in countries like Kenya, Nigeria and South Africa, it would be safe to assume that China-Africa ties are in serious trouble. The prevailing narrative in many countries is one where Africa is increasingly victimized by China through debt, labor abuse and outright discrimination among other problems.

But that’s only part of the story.

A different narrative showcases how China’s political ties with African governments have never been stronger. The Chinese are providing desperately needed relief to struggling African states through debt relief, COVID-19 supplies and the promise of being among the first to access a C19 vaccine when it’s available.

The fact is that significant portions of both these are true, making it very difficult to understand the current state of China-Africa relations.

Hangwei Li, an award-winning journalist and PhD candidate at the University of London, and Johannesburg-based attorney and China-Africa analyst Jacqueline Muna Musiitwa tackled this challenge in a new article published by the Royal United Services Institute for Defence and Security Studies. Hangwei an Jacqueline join Eric and Cobus to discuss the competing agendas that complicate public perceptions of the Chinese in Africa.

Show Notes:

About Hangwei Li and Jacqueline Muna Musiitwa:

Jacqueline Muna Musiitwa Esq is the Founder and Managing Partner at Hoja Law Group, and a researcher on China–Africa relations and African political economy. In 2019, she was appointed to the UN Committee for Development Policy. She is also a Young Global Leader of the World Economic Forum.


Hangwei Li is an award-winning journalist and a PhD candidate in Politics and International Studies at SOAS, University of London. She was also a visiting scholar at Harvard Kennedy School and a researcher at the Global Development Policy Center.

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