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BOOK REVIEW: China and Africa
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China and Africa
Building Peace and Security Cooperation on the Continent
By Chris Alden and Abiodun Alao

BT 201804 book 01      20 世纪末以来,中国的对外经济关系逐渐从先前主要关注发达国家转向更加重视发展中国家,非洲是其中最为重要的地区,其标志是 2000 年中非合作论坛的建立。此后,中国全面重返非洲并在诸多新领域发挥其影响力,冲突后重建便是其中之一。

      目前,中国在非洲冲突后重建中的作用远比过去更为重大,其动因是多方面的,既包括非洲与国际体系的变化,也包括中国在非洲的国家利益的拓展。尽管经济合作是且将继续是中非关系的优先考虑,但中国正日益参与到非洲大陆的冲突与不安全因素的应对中,特别是书中提到的冲突后重建事务。这一介入正日渐积极且某种程度上比过去更为灵活。随着中非关系的快速发展,中国在非洲的利益正从促进向着保护的方向发展,这与非洲安全面临的挑战和国际体系转型的压力一道,呼吁着中国在非洲冲突后重建中发挥更大的作用。中国已通过派遣维和部队、提供冲突后重建投资及其他支持活动,为非洲冲突后重建作出重要贡献。尽管如此,由于多重不确定性的存在,中国未来在非洲冲突后重建中的作用仍有待进一步观察。

     《China and Africa》从多方位客观详尽地为大家介绍了中非关系的过去与现在,不仅囊括上述内容,还提出了很多有建设性的观点。本书由著名学者、伦敦政治经济学院高级讲师、南非国际事务研究所中非项目主任克里斯•阿尔登(Chris Alden)、Abiodun Alao先生以及上海国际问题研究院西亚非洲研究中心副主任、副教授张春先生共同编著。通过他们的笔触和视角,我们会看到一个更加全面客观的中非关系蓝图。

China’s rapidly increasing presence in the African continent is one of the key outcomes of the Middle Kingdom’s great rise. With enormous geopolitical as well as economic implications, the knock-on effects of Chinese interests in Africa are no longer merely commercial (even in the broadest sense of that word) – they now encompass a vast range of infrastructural, developmental and security issues. Capital investment always requires defending, both physically and legally, and while China may not always be keen to see itself dragged into skirmishes, tensions and conflicts great and small, there is no doubt that its responsibilities there are rising swiftly.
 

A timely analysis of the growing relationship between the two, China and Africa comprises of a series of essays from academics and analysts. It is divided into three over-arching sections: “Africa’s Peace and Security and China’s Evolving Policy”, “Case Studies”, and “Regional and Global Perspectives”.
 

Perhaps the most useful section is the first. There, the authors examine a series of interlocking issues on security (both domestic and national), making it clear that the Chinese government and commercial actions are not driven by some grand design. Rather, with many African countries still falling prey to instability (whether political, economic, or diplomatic), Chinese actors in Africa have had to continually adjust according to the needs of the hour. This is the cost of operating in less developed nations, with concomitant less developed institutions. Yet with Chinese firms in great need of raw materials, they have to work with whatever is there.
 

But the increasing solidification of ties is a remarkable turnaround from China’s prior policy of non-interventionism. This policy was in marked contrast to Western relations with Africa, where aid was (and is) contingent on approved government policies, in what might be seen as a continuing colonial relationship. China’s deepening involvement – “ranging from the extensive peacekeeping activities it has undertaken in a number of African states to ongoing mediation in countries like Sudan and even training of armed forces of some countries” – is thus a radical change, if following the logic of capital.
 

Indeed, China and Africa suggests that the military links China has established have given it a forbidding commercial lead against countries like India, Russia and Brazil which have recently been trying to make similar inroads into Africa, in which case hard power is securing soft power, as so often.
 

Elsewhere, the case studies take a deep dive into specific areas, such as Sudan and South Sudan, Chinese peacekeeping in Mali, and engagement in Liberia.
 

Throughout, China and Africa illuminates the issues fairly and with keen intelligence, while remaining a book that’s fun enough to read and keeps its eyes on the bigger picture. The change in China’s relationship with Africa has thus far not been fully commented upon, but this book may well have a strong role to play in changing the scenario.

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