Africa’s favorable view of China comes with one small caveat, November 2021

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Africa’s favorable view of China comes with one small caveat, November 2021
Africa’s favorable view of China comes with one small caveat, November 2021

Africa-Press – Gambia. Hi Quartz Africa readers!

When it comes to discussing China-Africa relations, debt is a common theme, with many saying Africa is overburdened by Chinese lending.

A new survey has found that despite these concerns, most African respondents view China’s economic and political influence on their countries favorably, describing the relationship as “somewhat positive” or “very positive.”

The survey, which was carried out by Afrobarometer, a Ghana-based pan-African nonprofit and research network, polled 48,084 respondents from 34 countries.

China is Africa’s largest economic partner, providing huge financial support for infrastructure development projects around the continent. Between 2000 and 2019, China loaned African countries $153 billion, according to the China Africa Research Initiative at Johns Hopkins University.

But China’s activities on the continent have been marred by accusations of debt-trap diplomacy because of the secretive nature of its loan contracts. Its infrastructure projects have also been accused of environmental and human rights abuses. Despite this, the Afrobarometer survey found that Africans hold broadly positive views of China’s assistance. They also felt that China’s level of influence on countries’ economies has declined over the past five years.

The survey responses don’t demonstrate an uncomplicated love for China. While respondents may view the relationship between their governments fairly positively, when asked which country they thought provided a better model for their future development, more people chose the US over China (only 11% chose former colonial powers).

Still, the survey paints a more positive picture of Africa’s perception of the Asian giant’s engagement with the continent, despite concerns over issues such as debt, which often dominate the narrative. It’s also a helpful reminder that the Africa-China relationship is a nuanced one. —Carlos Mureithi, east Africa correspondent

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