The African continent is deftly moving away from its long-standing image of a region in perpetual chaos, poverty and conflict. Home to six of the world’s fastest economies, it is being seen as the new frontier for global economic growth due to its demographic dividend, untapped market potential and abundant natural resources. Over the past few decades, China has emerged as an indispensable part of the African growth story: drawing on lessons from its own remarkable economic development, Beijing is consciously attempting to craft a distinct discourse on development and frame its engagement with African countries in a way that is strikingly different from traditional powers active in the region. It is also deepening political and economic ties, creating a military footprint, building infrastructure, setting up manufacturing units and free trade zones while witnessing the enhanced mobility of citizens from and into African countries.
However, the increasing engagement of Chinese national and subnational actors in Africa has not been without controversy. Charges of velvet-gloved strategic intent, corruption, environmental damage, worker unrest and inflating debt traps; the optimists of China-Africa interactions have been challenged with critical objections. On Chinese engagement, perceptions vary and so do perceived implications for other actors. The talk will navigate this layered relationship and its place in the current global discourse using case studies, observations and experiences gathered on the ground in China and Africa.
About the Speaker
Veda Vaidyanathan is a Research Associate at the Institute of Chinese Studies, New Delhi. She completed her Ph.D. from the Centre for African Studies at the University of Mumbai on the Resource Diplomacy Strategies of India and China in Africa. She was initially a doctoral fellow of the Indian Council of Social Science Research and in 2014 received the Institute of Chinese Studies-Harvard Yenching Institute (ICS-HYI) China-India studies fellowship. From 2015-16 she was a senior visiting fellow at the Centre for African Studies, School of International Studies, Peking University, China and was a visiting fellow at the Harvard-Yenching Institute in Harvard University the following year. She has conducted extensive fieldwork interviewing various stakeholders in India, China, Kenya, Ethiopia, USA and the UK and has presented papers in international and national conferences. Her research currently focuses on the interactions of India, China and other emerging powers with countries in Africa.
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