Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
China's Second Continent: How a Million Migrants Are Building a New Empire in Africa Hardcover – Deckle Edge, May 20, 2014
|New from||Used from|
See the Best Books of 2017
Looking for something great to read? Browse our editors' picks for the best books of the year in fiction, nonfiction, mysteries, children's books, and much more.
Customers who bought this item also bought
What other items do customers buy after viewing this item?
*Starred Review* Although several recent books have discussed, in variously alarmist fashion, China’s recent incursions into Africa in pursuit of resources and profit, former New York Times journalist French (A Continent for the Taking, 2004) has the advantage of significant personal experience in both Africa and China. He also speaks Mandarin, so he can converse directly with some of the million or so members of the Chinese diaspora in Africa. They are a diverse lot—doctors, engineers, farmers, entrepreneurs, lobbyists, laborers, and prostitutes, among others—and accounts of their experience are often absent from analyses of Chinese-African relations, which typically focus on infrastructure building and resource grabbing. Interacting with Chinese and Africans in Mozambique, Sierra Leone, Namibia, and elsewhere, French capably illustrates that although the Chinese omnipresence in Africa may be a form of soft imperialism, it is also a result of the crushing pressures—lack of space, merciless business competition, pollution—of modern Chinese society. For many Chinese, he suggests, Africa means opportunity and relative freedom that cannot be had at home. If French is sympathetic to the plight of many Chinese immigrants, however, he remains critical of their casual racism and general callousness about their African hosts. And as he laments the seeming inevitability of corruption and environmental degradation, French’s disappointment in his cherished continent is palpable. --Brendan Driscoll
A 2014 New York Times Notable Book
“Extraordinary…French delves into the lives of some of the one million-plus Chinese migrants he says are now building careers in Africa…and the stories [he] tells are fascinating.”
—The New York Times Book Review
“Riveting…As a massive transactional process, China’s entry into Africa has been a dramatic success...but as an ideological and cultural undertaking, Mr. French’s masterly account suggests that it is getting nowhere.”
“Howard French…let[s] the Africans and Chinese speak for themselves as he travels through fifteen countries. The result is a rich, complex, and satisfying look at this strange marriage.”
—The New York Review of Books
“In his important new book, French weaves a rich tapestry of anecdotes, interspersed with numerous interviews with Chinese migrants and Africans alike, offering readers an eminently fair, occasionally humorous and sympathetic, but always engaging account….A searing, trenchant, and entertaining study of how China, in both an individual and collective sense, is shrewdly and opportunistically maximizing its relationships with African nations in an effort to extend its economic influence across the world. ”
—The Christian Science Monitor
“China’s trade with Africa has grown dramatically…But China’s investments…are less significant for this rapidly evolving relationship, according to this 15-country survey by veteran African correspondent French, than the significant flow of new Chinese immigrants—often pushed out by the pressure and oppression back home as much as lured by opportunity. In vivid first-person reportage, French explores this momentous phenomenon, while challenging assumptions about China and Chinese immigrants…The book will appeal to students of China and Africa, and anyone interested in the shifting contours of the global economy and its geopolitical consequences.”
“Although several recent books have discussed…China’s recent incursions into Africa in pursuit of resources and profit,…French has the advantage of significant personal experience in both Africa and China….Interacting with Chinese and Africans in Mozambique, Sierra Leone, Namibia, and elsewhere, French capably illustrates that although Chinese omnipresence in Africa may be a form of soft imperialism, it is also a result of the crushing pressures—lack of space, merciless business competition, pollution—of modern Chinese society.”
“Accounts of China’s foray into African markets are often made with numbers; French goes beyond the statistics and illuminates the accelerating involvement of Chinese migrants….These candid moments are arresting, delivered via seasoned and sensitive reporting.”
“The huge and growing ties between China and the African continent will be one of the most crucial relationships of the 21st century, and you simply could not invent a better guide to it than Howard French. Superbly written, rich in anecdote, insight, and a sense of the immense scale of what is happening, China’s Second Continent should be mandatory reading for anyone wanting to understand how our world is being reshaped.”
—Adam Hochschild, author, King Leopold’s Ghost
“We owe tremendous thanks to Howard French for this fascinating and deeply reported book. He is an audacious writer who takes his readers to the far-flung factories, farms and living rooms of the Chinese entrepreneurs who are flooding into countries like Mozambique, Zambia and Senegal. French intrepidly explores the other side of the global coin, giving voice to an array of Africans reacting warily to the new imperialists in their midst. This is an essential book for understanding not just China and Africa but our changing world.”
—Peter Maass, author, Crude World
“Almost no other writer would have dared the reportorial and story-telling challenge Howard French has set for himself in China’s Second Continent, and absolutely none could have pulled it off as well. This is foreign reportage and analysis presented as compelling human drama.”
—James Fallows, author, China Airborne
“In Howard French’s wonderfully engaging new book, he draws on his journalistic experience covering both China and Africa to weave together a series of vivid portraits which limn the country’s global rise in this remote and unlikely part of the world. What is so surprising about the stories he tells is that they chronicle everything from the constriction of massive stadiums, hospitals, universities, highways and mineral and energy extraction operations to small-scale shops, farms and family businesses. China’s Second Continent is a grand tale of the world’s newest diaspora, one that promises to change a previously largely forgotten continent.”
—Orville Schell, Director, The Center on US-China Relations, Asia Society
“Howard French has given us the most lush, fair, and expansive look yet at China’s role in Africa. This is a tale not strictly about China or Africa; it is about the encounter of civilizations and the energy produced in the collision. Infused with thought and sympathy, this is a book with no agenda other than fidelity to facts that were so difficult to gather on the ground.”
—Evan Osnos, staff writer, The New Yorker
“Is China’s burgeoning empire in Africa a ‘win-win’ for both parties? For the most comprehensive, closely-reported answer to this question, read this book. It’s full of surprises, from hard-driving frontiersmen looking for (and finding) countries with less corruption than they faced at home in China to healthy democracies constraining the more rapacious practices of extractive industry. I cannot imagine a better, more-qualified guide to this vast, fascinating subject than Howard French.”
—William Finnegan, author, A Complicated War: The Harrowing of Mozambique
“Howard French magisterially holds up both ends of his transcontinental bargain: fluent in the idioms of the two worlds, China and Africa, he reveals the variegated diaspora of the one million or so Chinese in Africa yet also drives home that Africa is awakening in turn. His pages are teeming with human beings of flesh and blood, and often outlandish characters, at the new frontier explored in this fascinating book.”
—Stephen W. Smith, former Africa editor of Le Monde and professor at Duke University
“An important contribution to a critical debate on China’s rapidly changing relationship with Africa. Howard French goes beyond official statistics to weave stories of new wave Chinese immigrants and the Africans whose lives they impact. Unlike ideologues who focus on motives, French seeks to discern the impact of this relationship on all drawn into its vortex.”
—Mahmood Mamdani, Executive Director, Makerere Institute of Social Research, Kampala, Uganda and Herbert Lehman Professor of Government, Columbia University
“Howard French is one of the most insightful American journalists to have covered Africa in the past twenty years. In this riveting and rich new book, he powerfully juxtaposes two worlds he is uniquely positioned to observe, namely China and Africa. Anyone who has recently spent time in Africa knows how important China is becoming on the continent. Yet French tells a nuanced story about the Chinese few will have previously understood. His storytelling is sharp and wise, the characters we meet are vivid and unforgettable, and the implications are profound and at times disturbing. Anyone interested in Africa and China, or more generally in migration and globalization, will find a wealth of material in this terrific book.”
—Scott Straus, professor of political science at University of Wisconsin, Madison
Top customer reviews
There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.
China’s entry, or return to Africa bears none of its previous anti-colonial pretense. In fact, she enters as a colonialist without the naked display of power that the European colonialists showed. Nonetheless, she is after minerals, food and land. China is there to exploit and her people who are sent out as would be shock troops are traders not benefactors. Africans hope to benefit from the promised “win-win” but in most cases their leaders have sold them out, or have been out-maneuvered by the more business savvy Chinese.
The book recounts many instances of this theme through a travelog narrative. Well written and very vivid. Paints a disheartening picture of a new round of exploitation of the African people. Not an optimistic future if trends continue as they are.
flows easily, making the book a real page turner. I come out of
the reading with an exasperation that the people of Africa do not
have anything like a sufficiently creative and forceful leadership
with a moral sense of their responsibility to advantage their own people.
Stupidity and cupidity!
While China is investing tremendous amounts of money in African
countries, they are basically bullying and tricking the local people
with the connivance of the local leaders, treating the former as children.
It is still another case of the rape of Africa.
I just finished reading Re-imagining India by the McKinsey Company.
It is not a case there of another country coming in to rape them,
but of endemic corruption, lack of useful goals and a vastly diffuse government
which keeps impoverished the main masses of people.
I am struck by the enormous richness of resources in the Indian and African nations,
but disastrously few strong-enough, ethical leaders to leaven the lives of their
people with the richness of their nations' great natural resources.
It is bad living for most of the people in all of those countries now.
It is hard to imagine how awful it will be in 50 years or so when the
populations have grown greatly and the resources have been
depleted. Very sad. But the book is a "must-read."
And the states that enter into these deals expect -- or claim to expect -- that there is going to be technology transfer; but the Chinese typically bring in Chinese to do all but the shovel work.
Too many African states are selling their natural resources -- precious woods, iron ore, rich farm lands (!), copper ore, etc. -- and getting nothing that is going to last in return.
This book allows us to understand one aspect of Meredith's pessimism about post-colonial Africa in THE FATE OF AFRICA (2011). Meredith argues that the growth rates of many African states -- often above 5% annual GDP growth -- is not real growth, because so much of it has to do with Chinese construction and mining projects -- most of the money for which goes back to China.
But the book is more than a collection of sad facts -- it is also a lively account of French's travels in Mozambique, Liberia, Senegal, Zambia, and other states. It is well worth reading just as travel writing.