Executive Summary: Rethinking Development
China’s interest in Africa raises tough questions the world over. Maybe most pressingly for the United States: What does China’s pragmatic, multifaceted development agenda on the African continent mean for African democracy, especially in light of the failures of Western aid? Time will provide the answer, but in the meantime westerners need a new way to approach Africa.
This event brought together leading experts to discuss China’s role on the African continent from Chinese, African and Western perspectives. As a companion to the event, this publication is intended to carry the conversation forward and has two chief aims: to help readers know how to think about the topic of China in Africa, and to display that “China in Africa” is comprised of complex, muscular interactions.
The lesson to take away here is that development is more about trade than aid and, for its part, China has done a far better job at actualizing that concept in Africa than the U.S. Whether the consideration is immigration, trade, investment, cultural learning, or government-to-government interaction one message is clear: Trying to buy development with aid alone must become an idea of the past because, anymore, Africa means business.