The Star Raft: China's Encounters with Africa

The Star Raft: China's Encounters with Africa

by Jan Vansina

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Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
The encounter between China and Africa, two superficially different regions, had its formal beginning in 1414 when a Ming Dynasty admiral named Zheng He anchored his galleons in East African waters. Thereafter, Chinese traders and laborers forayed into the interior until the period of European colonization. After World War II, as African countries began to attain independence, Peking launched a major diplomatic and economic-aid effort on the continent in competition with its Soviet rival. Of the many examples by which the authorhe is the son of British novelist C. P. Snowillustrates Chinese motives and methods, his account of the construction of the Tanzania-Zambia railroad in the 1970s is the most striking. A cooperative effort on a grand scale, it succeeded in spite of ignorance and severe culture shock on both sides. Snow is firm in his belief that the crucial component in any long-term alliance of non-Western peoples is not so much a matter of politics or economics as it is of informal human relations. In his gently persuasive first book, he demonstrates how the Chinese and Africans have ``bridged the gap of strangeness,'' not without momentary setbacks, through patient efforts to understand one another. Illustrations. (August)

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Cornell University Press
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