Engaging, Earnest, New Insights, a Great Contribution
February 22, 2010
Serge Michel, Michel Beuret, Paolo Woods (Photos)
Of the modest number of books focused on China in Africa, this is one of the two best, and both are unique–if you buy only one, at least read my summary of the other, China into Africa: Trade, Aid, and Influence Whereas this book is direct journalism with wonderful color photos and direct ground-truth stories, China Into Africa is a best in class collection of academic essays.
Sixteen full pages of color photos in the middle of the book were unexpected and a complete delight.
On balance between the two books, this one taught me more and provided insights I could not get elsewhere to include the clear understanding, documented across multiple encounters by the authors, that the Chinese consider any Chinese business area or housing area of, by, and for their Chinese workers, to be sovereign territory of China immune to indigenous inspection or intervention.
Highpoints for me:
+ Africa is undergoing a huge transformation, and in combination, the infusion of Chinese infrastructure with the discovery of new energy fields and the growing need of all for what Africa has, is creating a perfect environment for a wealth explosion, and the US is missing it.
+ US has given up in Africa, in large part because the US Government other than the military does not have the resources, the human capital, the area knowledge, or the innate interest to actually do something strategic. The Chinese, in contrast, are unifying and pacifying Africa with infrastructure and commerce, while gaining direct access to natural resources that they can take possession of at half the market value by controlling the supply chain and no doubt lying about how much they are extracting.
+ Chinese presence in Africa is vertically and horizontally integrated, to include relatively thorough exploitation of what I have named the eight tribes of intelligence (academic, citizen-civil sector, commercial, government, law enforcement, media, military, and non-governmental), the Chinese appear to be way ahead of the US and all others in the Information Operations (IO) domain.