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Think Change episode 25: Africa-China – where is the relationship heading?

Written by Sara Pantuliano, Linda Calabrese, Yuezhou Yang, Tin Hinane el Kadi, Anzetse Were


African countries have had close economic relationships with China for many years. China is a major trade and investment partner, technology and infrastructure collaborator and development finance player in Africa.

This has challenged traditional Western donors who had colonial relationships with many African countries as well as the US, until now the unquestionable dominant security and military power interacting with the continent.

Earlier this year Italian Foreign Minister Antonio Tajani said that ‘leaving Africa in China’s hands is a big mistake’. Just last month, the UK’s Minister of State for Development Andrew Mitchell hinted at the competition in Africa between the West on one side, and China and Russia on the other side.

But as always, the reality is way more complex than this simple narrative. African countries entertain relationships with Europe, North America and Asia at the same time. What does the partnership with China mean for African countries? Will this mean a boost to Africa’s economic diversification and manufacturing growth? Will it bring greater independence and autonomy to African actors?

In this episode we explore how African countries are shaping their own relationship with China beyond big infrastructure projects and the role the Chinese private sector is playing in fuelling investment and growth on the African continent.


  • Sara Pantuliano (host), Chief Executive, ODI
  • Tin Hinane el Kadi, political economy researcher, London School of Economics and Political Science
  • Yuezhou Yang, researcher, London School of Economics and Political Science
  • Linda Calabrese, Research Fellow, ODI & Doctoral Fellow, Lau China Institute, King’s College London
  • Anzetse Were, development economist

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