China's Second Continent: How a Million Migrants Are Building a New Empire in Africa

China's Second Continent: How a Million Migrants Are Building a New Empire in Africa

Howard W. French

Language: English

Pages: 304

ISBN: 0307946657

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

A New York Times Notable Book 

One of the Best Books of the Year at • The Economist  The Guardian • Foreign Affairs

Chinese immigrants of the recent past and unfolding twenty-first century are in search of the African dream. So explains indefatigable traveler Howard W. French, prize-winning investigative journalist and former New York Times bureau chief in Africa and China, in the definitive account of this seismic geopolitical development. China’s burgeoning presence in Africa is already shaping, and reshaping, the future of millions of people. From Liberia to Senegal to Mozambique, in creaky trucks and by back roads, French introduces us to the characters who make up China’s dogged emigrant population: entrepreneurs singlehandedly reshaping African infrastructure, and less-lucky migrants barely scraping by but still convinced of Africa’s opportunities. French’s acute observations offer illuminating insight into the most pressing unknowns of modern Sino-African relations: Why China is making these cultural and economic incursions into the continent; what Africa’s role is in this equation; and what the ramifications for both parties and their people—and the watching world—will be in the foreseeable future.















not owe her place to political patronage. Her union’s workers had gone on strike against a big Chinese construction firm for failure to pay the legally established wages, which they eventually won. Jonas was a well-spoken and engaging thirty-year-old. She was dressed in a black leotard top and big silver earrings when I walked into her simple branch office. She had a soft, easy smile, but there always seemed to be a touch of sadness to it when she spoke. She had become a labor activist almost by

ridiculous thought that we might need more time for this trip than I’d bargained for. If anything, at this rate I feared we would be in Thiès too early. The scenery that scrolled out before me catalogued the many ways Dakar had grown, molting and metamorphosing two or three times since my last visit. All about, new roads were being laid and older streets being widened or dug up to allow for new drainage systems or other improvements. There were young people everywhere along our route, mothers

resource-rich countries in Africa had remained poor, he turned almost downcast. “Well, yes. I just think that a lot of these countries need more help. Africa needs help.” Li was waiting in his car when I took leave of the doctor, and he was still in a bad mood when we pulled out of the compound. I apologized for Dai’s rudeness, which set off an outburst by Li about the man’s arrogance and lack of manners and breeding. I had other business downtown, and asked the driver to drop me off so that I

had already once attempted to score a big coup with a deal similar to the one in Congo. This had come during the brutal rule of Dadis Camara, the leader of the group of junior officers who took over the country after the death of longtime president Lansana Conté. “Dadis had the idea that if he could supply reliable electricity and water to the population, which is something that no other president here has ever managed to do, he’d be able to stay in power. The Chinese offered him a $5 billion

their internal affairs.” Liu was a handsome man with a tidy, unlined face. He had come to the office this Saturday morning dressed in jeans, a black polo shirt, and loafers. But despite the informal getup, he was full of himself. His style contrasted sharply with the legions of American diplomats I’d encountered over the years, with their overweening preoccupation with rules of attribution followed by endless boilerplate. Here was a diplomat who spoke his mind and didn’t bother with minute

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