The Dragon's Gift: The Real Story of China in Africa

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Is China a rogue donor, as some media pundits suggest? Or is China helping the developing world pave a pathway out of poverty, as the Chinese claim? In the last few years, China's aid program has leapt out of the shadows. Media reports about huge aid packages, support for pariah regimes, regiments of Chinese labor, and the ruthless exploitation of workers and natural resources in some of the poorest countries in the world sparked fierce debates. These debates, however, took place with very few hard facts. China's tradition of secrecy about its aid fueled rumors and speculation, making it difficult to gauge the risks and opportunities provided by China's growing embrace.

This well-timed book, by one of the world's leading experts, provides the first comprehensive account of China's aid and economic cooperation overseas. Deborah Brautigam tackles the myths and realities, explaining what the Chinese are doing, how they do it, how much aid they give, and how it all fits into their "going global" strategy. Drawing on three decades of experience in China and Africa, and hundreds of interviews in Africa, China, Europe and the U.S., Brautigam shines new light on a topic of great interest.

China has ended poverty for hundreds of millions of its own citizens. Will Chinese engagement benefit Africa? Using hard data and a series of vivid stories ranging across agriculture, industry, natural resources, and governance, Brautigam's fascinating book provides an answer. It is essential reading for anyone concerned with China's rise, and what it might mean for the challenge of ending poverty in Africa.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"The Dragon's Gift looks behind [the] media hype. It offers surprising insights and challenges us to take a new look at Africa's development.... thoughtful and well-researched...the basis for a well-informed, interesting dialogue with Chinese actors." —The Huffington Post

"Brautigam's lively and thoroughly documented account buck[s] the conventional wisdom."—Foreign Affairs

"Deborah Brautigam's superb book The Dragon's Gift offers a window into how China's foray into Africa is playing out on the ground. Rich in vivid anecdotes and informed by the author's three decades of academic work on both China and Africa, the book does many things, and does them all well. It describes how Chinese engagement in Africa has evolved, identifies its drivers, and assays its emerging impact on both economics and governance in nearly two dozen African states. It also looks behind the noble-minded rhetoric to the realities of aid-giving—Western as well as Chinese. The result is a fresh and compelling assessment of China in Africa..." —The American Interest

"The Dragon's Gift's strength is its extensive and varied array of interviews with Chinese government officials in Africa, Chinese factory managers, and other Chinese, African, and third-country participants and observers. Through these interviews, she conveys a rich sense of Chinese perceptions of how their own experience could benefit African countries." —Finance & Development

"Now comes a timely book by American academic Deborah Brautigam, an observer of Africa and Asia for three decades, which uses personal experiences combined with powerful research to puncture myths and fears that cloud understanding of one of the most important geopolitical shifts since the fall of the Berlin Wall."—The Independent

"Stands as the key booklength analysis on the subject. ...The Dragons Gift will be for a long time be the lodestone of informed discussion of how China and Chinese interact with Africa and Africans." —China Journal

"The best book so far on the developmental implications of China's engagement with Africa. Brautigam has done an excellent job in bringing together existing work on the topic and also first-class field research. As a result, the volume offers a more nuanced understanding of Beijings policies than many other previous books on the subject.... Anyone interested in Sino-African ties needs to read this book." —Perspectives on Politics

"The book tells a sweeping tale of Chinas engagement in Africa since the early 1950s, providing an important reminder that the recent trends in Sino-African relations have not turned up out of the blue (as alarmist media reports often portray) but rather have a significant history....particularly strong in addressing the question of what the Chinese are doing in their new wave of aid and economic cooperation across Africa....a superbly written and exquisitely researched book on a hotly debated topic." —Economic Record

"If you want to know what China is really doing in Africa, this is the one book to read. The Dragon's Gift corrects the misinformation of both critics and defenders of Chinas role on the continent. Beijing has a long-term, well-planned strategy that goes way beyond a drive to claim minerals and oil. Yet Africans are benefiting from Chinas mixture of aid and investment; Western aid officials could learn from it. I was surprised by new facts on almost every page. Brautigam has given us a compelling, objective, and very readable account enlivened by her personal experiences and interviews."—Susan Shirk, author of China: Fragile Superpower

"The Dragon's Gift is a path-breaking book, one that was urgently needed and one which deserves to be widely noticed and read. It not only provides an in-depth analysis of contemporary relations of China with Africa, located within their proper historical context, but meticulously presents, critiques and successfully challenges the array of myths, fears, and misinformation which abound in both press reports and some academic studies of China in Africa." —Roger C. Riddell, author of Does Foreign Aid Really Work?

"For China's cash-rich and nimbly opportunistic corporate sector, in particular, what Africa represents can be summed up quite neatly: the future. Deborah Brautigam, the author of The Dragon's Gift: The Real Story of China in Africa, understands all of this far better than most who have written on this subject. Her richly detailed book has many technical merits, but its greatest strength may in fact be her understanding of this psychological dynamic.... The universe of third-party experts who are deeply familiar with both China and Africa is vanishingly small, and Brautigam is easily one of the best qualified members of this select tribe." —Howard French, The National

"The Dragon's Gift is a welcome addition for general readers on why some fears are overblown and others are exaggerations of inaccuracies... This book offers many new insights into what Africa may truly want or need and how China sees itself... [and it] is an outstanding addition to resources easily readable by the general public; with a wide-range of cross application whether the reader is interested in China, economics, Africa or the humanitarian aspects of aid." —International Public Management Review

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780199550227
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
  • Publication date: 1/25/2010
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 416
  • Product dimensions: 6.50 (w) x 9.30 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

Deborah Brautigam is the author of Chinese Aid and African Development (1998), Aid Dependence and Governance (2000), and coeditor of Taxation and State-Building in Developing Countries (2008). A long-time observer of Asia and Africa, she has lived in China, West Africa and Southern Africa, and traveled extensively across both regions as a Fulbright researcher and consultant for the World Bank, the UN, and other development agencies. She is a professor in the International Development Program at American University's School of International Service in Washington, DC.

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Table of Contents

Prologue: The Changing Face of Chinese Engagement in Africa 1

1 Missionaries and Maoists: How China's Aid Moved from "Red" to "Expert" 22

2 Feeling the Stones: Deng Xiaoping's Experiments with Aid 43

3 Going Global: Foreign Aid in the Toolkit of a Rising China 71

4 Eastern Promises: An Aid System with Chinese Characteristics 105

5 Orient Express: How Does Chinese Aid and Engagement Work? 131

6 Apples and Lychees: How Much Aid Does China Give? 162

7 Flying Geese, Crouching Tiger: China's Changing Role in African Industrialization 189

8 Asian Tsunami: How a Tidal Wave Can also Be a Catalyst 211

9 Exporting Green Revolution: From Aid to Agribusiness 232

10 Foreign Farmers: Chinese Settlers in Rural Africa 253

11 Rogue Donor?: Myths and Realities 273

Conclusion: Engaging China 307

Appendices 313

Endnotes 318

Index 385

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