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February 17, 2009
Tune in: Online radio show on China’s role in Africa

Chinese President Hu Jintao ended his tour of four African nations this week, having promised to deepen ties with the continent. See where President Hu visited by scrolling down to our interactive map.

A lot of chatter has surrounded China’s interests in Africa. Media have branded China’s role in Africa as an invasion or an era of neo-colonialism with ulterior motives of pillaging Africa’s raw materials. Rhetoric from Chinese and African leaders includes words like “friendship,” “partnership” and “brotherhood,” stressing a shared history and common experience.

Worldfocus traveled to East Africa last summer to explore the strengthening trading ties among China and African countries — Sino-African trade amounted to almost $107 billion last year and has expanded tenfold since 2000. Chinese investment has encouraged new infrastructure projects and growth on the continent.

Some of this trade, however, involves countries like Sudan and Zimbabwe, where human rights abuses have been cited. Some also criticize the flood of cheap Chinese goods because it has eliminated Africans’ jobs.’s weekly radio show examined the roots of the China-Africa relationship dating back 50 years, exploring what it means for Africa and China and whether the U.S. has become an uncomfortable third wheel.

Worldfocus anchor Martin Savidge hosted the following guests:

Watch Mariana van Zeller’s documentary, “Chinatown, Africa.”

Li Anshan is a professor at the School of International Studies, Peking University and the director of the Institute of Afro-Asian Studies. His publications include “A History of Chinese Overseas in Africa” and “Social History of Chinese Overseas in Africa: Selected Documents, 1800-2005,” among others. His interests include African history, China-African relations, colonialism, Chinese overseas, comparative nationalism and development studies.

David H. Shinn is a former Ambassador to Ethiopia and Burkina Faso. He is currently an adjunct professor at George Washington University. Amb. Shinn’s research interests include Africa, terrorism, Islamic fundamentalism and U.S. foreign policy in Africa. He also blogs regularly here.

Mariana van Zeller is is a correspondent for Vanguard, an original documentary series on Current TV. She’s a native of Portugal and has spent the last several years traveling the globe to cover the emerging trends that are reshaping our world. Mariana has reported on conflict, immigration and the environment. In 2008, she traveled to Angola to produce the documentary “Chinatown, Africa,” which examines China’s rapidly growing presence on the continent.

Each year since 1991, a Chinese foreign minister has selected Africa as the first overseas trip. China has diplomatic relations with 49 of Africa’s 53 countries and has ambassadors in all these countries, except for Somalia due to the security situation. Below is an interactive map detailing recent visits by President Hu Jintao and Prime Minister Wen Jiabao to African nations. Click on the highlighted African countries below to see China’s recent high-level visits.

Host: Martin Savidge
Producers: Lisa Biagiotti, Katie Combs and Stephen Puschel

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