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China Safari: On the Trail of Beijing's Expansion in Africa Paperback – International Edition, August 24, 2010

4.3 out of 5 stars 18 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. With trade between Africa and China estimated to reach $100 billion by 2010, China recently over-took Great Britain as the continent's third largest business partner. Journalists Michel and Beuret offer an intrepid and intelligent analysis of how Chinese economic investment is changing every-day African life-and the implications for China's role in the international community. From a nation that historically discouraged emigration, China has made a radical volte face-president Hu Jintao actually encourages citizens to seek their fortune in Africa-and this shift has resulted in investment in such areas as hydroelectric dams, textiles and tourism. The authors bring back stories from the rain forests in Congo, the uranium mines of the Sahara and the oil fields of Nigeria-frisking every statistic and detailing the human and environmental impact of China and Africa's relationship-and how it is perceived by the Western political, economic, and humanitarian institutions that have long dictated Africa's parameters of economic growth. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

USA Today
“Through a witty narrative that at times becomes a first-person travelogue, the authors entertain while educating, revealing in the process the absurdities that come with reporting on the ground in Africa...[A]n admirable contribution to a story with broad geopolitical implications.”

Library Journal
“A significant book that insightfully examines China’s role in Africa, China Safari reveals not only the complexities of Chinese immigration to Africa, but also the political rivalries that result from it…Recommended for all interested readers.”

New York Times
China Safari is a fascinating, provocative work of firsthand reporting that illuminates an important global economic story.”

Washington Times
China Safari tackles an important and largely underreported topic with an engaging and lively verve…Mr. Michel and Mr. Beuret make an important contribution, without passing judgment, toward our understanding of China’s intentions in Africa.”
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Nation Books; First Trade Paper Edition edition (August 24, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1568586140
  • ISBN-13: 978-1568586144
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 0.7 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,362,418 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Robert David STEELE Vivas HALL OF FAMETOP 1000 REVIEWER on February 22, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Of the modest number of books focused on China in Africa, this is one of the two best, and both are unique--if you buy only one, at least read my summary of the other, China into Africa: Trade, Aid, and Influence Whereas this book is direct journalism with wonderful color photos and direct ground-truth stories, China Into Africa is a best in class collection of academic essays.

Sixteen full pages of color photos in the middle of the book were unexpected and a complete delight.

On balance between the two books, this one taught me more and provided insights I could not get elsewhere to include the clear understanding, documented across multiple encounters by the authors, that the Chinese consider any Chinese business area or housing area of, by, and for their Chinese workers, to be sovereign territory of China immune to indigenous inspection or intervention.

Highpoints for me:

+ Africa is undergoing a huge transformation, and in combination, the infusion of Chinese infrastructure with the discovery of new energy fields and the growing need of all for what Africa has, is creating a perfect environment for a wealth explosion, and the US is missing it.

+ US has given up in Africa, in large part because the US Government other than the military does not have the resources, the human capital, the area knowledge, or the innate interest to actually do something strategic.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Swiss journalists Serge Michel and Michel Beuret spent a couple of years touring much of Africa talking with Chinese construction workers, merchants and miners where they could find them--which was just about everywhere--and getting a ground level view of how the People's Republic of China is investing in and buying up resources, hiring African workers and setting up companies. They combined hundreds of interviews, uncounted hours of observation and a raft of secondary sources in creating China Safari, a book that is as much about life under African "big men" as it is about China's intervention.

The Chinese are building infrastructure that could help unify the continent; the roads, pipelines, ports and airports that they construct could be the basis for tying together currently disparate and often hostile African nations. A major advantage they have is that successful businesses run by Africans risk being looted or taken over by political elites while Chinese businesses are a much tougher target. The Chinese approach differs from banks in the U.S and western Europe in that they have no interest in the imprimatur of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund--they don't insist on democratic elections (usually just window dressing to qualify for loans) or progress on human rights for their citizens.

Michel and Beuret found that Chinese in Africa have the same prejudices and racist assumptions as the former colonial masters, that Africans are "naturally" lazy compared with their ambitious, hardworking countrymen. In China, they claim, if farmers don't plant rice in the spring they will starve in the autumn while in Sub-Sahara Africa "you can just pick fruit from the trees all around you.
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Format: Hardcover
"China Safari" summarizes the meanderings of three French reporters through Africa and to a conference on Africa in Beijing. The bad news is that they lacked high-level contacts or access to good statistical sources, and their account rambles; despite these limitations, however, the book provides some useful information, summarized in the following.

China has taken France's place as Africa's second largest business partner, and is closing in on the number one position - held by the U.S. In late 2006, an estimated 750,000 Chinese were resident across the entire African continent. One of China's main attractions to African nations is that it has not gotten involved in local politics like the U.S. and the Word Bank have; on the other hand, the authors claim that China is gradually realizing that its visible support of certain dictators may backfire and is now pressuring Sudan and Zimbabwe.

Another reason the Chinese are popular with local governments is that they don't just export raw materials, as American companies have been prone to do. For example, instead of just exporting bauxite like Alcoa, the Chinese are also funding a hydroelectric dam, a railroad, and a refinery - creating many more jobs as well as valuable infrastructure.

Chinese bidders are generally successful thanks to their low labor costs and low overheads - eg. managers stay with workers in work camps, not at the Hilton Hotel. In addition, Chinese machines cost about one-fourth that of European ones, and Chinese workers toil seven days/week, plus overtime as needed to keep on schedule.

Typical Chinese workers in Africa sign an eight-page contract to work 18 months, followed by one month of home leave.
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