Joshua Kurlantzick is a visiting scholar at the China Program of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. This essay is excerpted from his book Charm Offensive: How China’s Soft Power is Transforming the World. From The Boston Globe:
Embarking upon a 12-day tour of Africa earlier this year, Chinese President Hu Jintao likely expected a warm welcome. Over the past five years China had emerged as a new power on the continent: Trade between China and Africa is growing by nearly 50 percent annually, Beijing may soon become Africa’s top aid donor, and in the winter China hosted nearly every African leader for a historic summit in Beijing. On Hu’s previous trip to the continent, in 2004, African leaders basked in China’s new interest.
But this time around, Hu found a far different welcome. Though he received polite applause from leaders across Africa, he had to cancel part of his trip to Zambia amid fears of street protests over poor safety records at a Chinese-owned mine there. In South Africa and other countries, he faced condemnation in the media for China’s human rights abuses, while across the continent African opinion leaders wondered why China was not doing more to help stop the genocide in Darfur. Before Hu’s visit, Nigerian militants had kidnapped Chinese workers; in April, Ethiopian militants killed nine Chinese oil workers. [Full Text]