China's Second Continent

China's Second Continent

How A Million Migrants Are Building A New Empire in Africa

Book - 2014
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An exciting, hugely revealing account of China's burgeoning presence in Africa--a developing empire already shaping, and reshaping, the future of millions of people.
A prizewinning foreign correspondent and former New York Times bureau chief in Shanghai and in West and Central Africa, Howard French is uniquely positioned to tell the story of China in Africa. Through meticulous on-the-ground reporting--conducted in Mandarin, French, and Portuguese, among other languages--French crafts a layered investigation of astonishing depth and breadth as he engages not only with policy-shaping moguls and diplomats, but also with the  ordinary men and women navigating the street-level realities of cooperation, prejudice, corruption, and opportunity forged by this seismic geopolitical development. With incisiveness and empathy, French reveals the human face of China's economic, political, and human presence across the African continent--and in doing so reveals what is at stake for everyone involved.
We meet a broad spectrum of China's dogged emigrant population, from those singlehandedly reshaping African infrastructure, commerce, and even environment (a self-made tycoon who harnessed Zambia's now-booming copper ™ a timber entrepreneur determined to harvest the entirety of Liberia's old-growth redwoods), to those just barely scraping by (a sibling pair running small businesses despite total illiteracy; a karaoke bar owner-cum-brothel madam), still convinced that Africa affords them better opportunities than their homeland. And we encounter an equally panoramic array of African responses: a citizens' backlash in Senegal against a "Trojan horse" Chinese construction project (a tower complex to be built over a beloved soccer field, which locals thought would lead to overbearing Chinese pressure on their economy); a Zambian political candidate who, having protested China's intrusiveness during the previous election and lost, now turns accommodating; the ascendant middle class of an industrial boomtown; African mine workers bitterly condemning their foreign employers, citing inadequate safety precautions and wages a fraction of their immigrant counterparts'.

French's nuanced portraits reveal the paradigms forming around this new world order, from the all-too-familiar echoes of colonial ambition--exploitation of resources and lab∨ cut-rate infrastructure projects; dubious treaties--to new frontiers of cultural and economic exchange, where dichotomies of suspicion and trust, assimilation and isolation, idealism and disillusionment are in dynamic flux.
Part intrepid travelogue, part cultural census, part industrial and political expos#65533;, French's keenly observed account ultimately offers a fresh perspective on the most pressing unknowns of modern Sino-African relations: why China is making the incursions it is, just how extensive its cultural and economic inroads are, what Africa's role in the equation is, and just what the ramifications for both parties--and the watching world--will be in the foreseeable future.
Publisher: New York : Alfred A. Knopf, c2014.
ISBN: 9780307956989
Characteristics: 285 pages :,maps ;,25 cm.


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Aug 23, 2015

I found the book repetitive at times. With each country that Howard visited, the viewpoint of the Chinese expatriates and the countries' nationals was quite similar. It was entertaining enough to keep me interested until the end.

Apr 05, 2015

Mr. French interviewed many Chinese expatiates in Africa for his book. Most of these Chinese people were very nice to him. They treated him with lavish meal, drove him around the country, took him to shopping when he lost his luggage, invited him to their home, work place and helped him every way they could. But nothing they had done was good enough for him. He criticized everything about them. Their construction were shoddy works, their motive to help the Africans were all for selfish reason, they were racial supremacists wanting to take over the Africa, maybe even the world, & they were destroying the environment everywhere they go. It was excruciating to read chapter after chapter, Mr. French happily accepted generous hospitality of his victims, then, trashed them all in his book. Any Chinese knowingly or unknowingly had any encounter with Mr. French would be portrayed as egoistic racist monster who cared only making money for themselves. But it was interesting to read about Africa. I appreciated Africa so much more after reading his book. I wish Chinese read his book and learn to be more sensitive toward African people, not to pollute the environment, build better looking things and never talk to Mr. French ever again.
Recently, I went to listen to Mr. French talking about his book. He was not as harsh with his criticism toward the Chinese as in his book and mentioned that most people in the west were just as racist in the past. After the talk, I asked him what is his view on Muslim’s influence in Africa, and asked for his comment about the killing in the Kenya university by al-shabab and the violent acts done by Boca Haram. He said, I need to understand that historically there have been a very large Muslim population in Africa. But in the 19th century, Western colonial powers carved up Africa without any respect to the existing borderline and the current violence was a result of that.

ChristchurchLib Aug 06, 2014

Journalist Howard French has extensive knowledge about Africa and China, having served as a bureau chief for The New York Times in both areas. Intrigued by the growing numbers of Chinese people who have moved to Africa, he interviewed both Africans and Chinese about China's apparent "colonization" of Africa. In China's Second Continent, he explains why the Chinese are moving to Africa, portrays their often contemptuously racist attitudes, and describes their business methods. French also discusses the potential for economic development that could harm or help Africa, depending on how the Chinese involvement is managed. China's Second Continent provides a thought-provoking assessment of the possible future for both Africa and China. History and Current Events newsletter August 2014.


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Dec 16, 2014

China has a means of advancing which is different from that of the west.

Dec 16, 2014

American diplomats had been slow to understand the scope of the change being driven by Chinese migration to Africa.

Dec 16, 2014

For thousands of years, Chinese had called people on their frontier barbarians, and now the stereotype had been reversed.

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