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China's Second Continent: How a Million Migrants Are Building a New…

– tekijä: Howard W. French

JäseniäKirja-arvostelujaSuosituimmuussijaKeskimääräinen arvioMaininnat
1544142,039 (3.79)2
A prizewinning foreign correspondent and former New York Timesbureau 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 trade; 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 labor; 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 expose, 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.… (lisätietoja)
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näyttää 4/4
This is a grumpy cynic’s vacation journal, not an in-depth investigation of China’s involvement in Africa.

The book is a series of travelogue anecdotes and brief summaries of interviews with business people and politicians in various African countries. The author spent a great deal of time describing his hotel rooms, route, and African roads, but he didn’t bother with any academic studies. He wrote about who he knows and how things have changed since the last time he visited each place, but didn't share many personal insights or interesting analysis of what he saw.

The opening and closing sections of the book were the best parts because they briefly escaped the microscopic focus of the rest of it. I was am still interested in the subject described by the title of this book, and I'm confident the author could teach me a lot about it. Sadly, in this book he didn't. ( )
  wishanem | May 27, 2021 |
Excellent Writing and Interviews

"China's Second Continent" is an extremely well-written and easy to read book. It is a collection of anecdotes and data that comes together to create the complicated and very nuanced story of China's understandable overseas expansion.

French's style is pleasing to read. Traveling in different parts of Africa, he conducts interviews with a multitude of interested parties, including government ministers, small-time Chinese traders, prostitutes, heads of state-run Chinese companies, union organizers, and workers for Chinese companies. French never backs away from his own personal thoughts and opinions of the people he meets, which is quite refreshing. Throughout his travels, he keeps a running commentary of his thesis, that China's long-term relationship with Africa extends far beyond quid-pro-qua mineral extraction and is headed towards a relationship whereby African countries will contribute to China's bread basket. French believes that this is a new and different form of imperialism.

There are two relationships dealt with in this book: that of individual Chinese entrepreneurs who migrate to Africa, and that of state-run Chinese companies who seem to fly by night in order to build infrastructure in exchange for natural resource or transportation concessions. The entrepreneurs are all colorful characters, well-described by French. The state-run company managers and workers are all tight-lipped, giving the reader the impression that there are nefarious plans at work. While many Africans, Europeans, and Americans complain that China's infrastructure projects in Africa are ramshackle and poor quality, leaving Africans with white elephants that they must manage, they are at least helping to build infrastructure, something the managers and high-level government workers say. Without direct Chinese investment, projects would drag on and never materialize, or only materialize in the form of hard-to-see investments in education, property management, and so forth.

Is China's investment, both large and small, in the country helpful? There is no solid conclusion here, but the evidence French presents seems to suggest that because there is no "capacity development" to maintain the large infrastructure contracts, the large, official investment is unhelpful.

Beyond the academic and economic conclusions, French is an excellent writer. The chapters in "China's Second Continent" are good-sized chunks that give a good picture of each country he visits, concentrating on the theme of meeting Chinese migrants. ( )
  mvblair | Aug 9, 2020 |
Described as China's re-colonization attempts within Africa, it depicts the activities of the poor and well-to-do who are attempting to realize their personal and political dreams.
Useat käyttäjät ovat merkinneet tämän arvostelun käyttöehtojen vastaiseksi eikä se ole enää näkyvissä (näytä arvostelu).
  cm37107 | Mar 4, 2015 |
Written as a travelogue, this book explores China's version of imperialism in Africa, to where many Chinese have immigrated, mostly to better their own personal situations (high or low), but bringing with them, high and low, an insular cultural arrogance that threatens to mimic the West's looting of the continent in the 19th and 20th centuries. ( )
  steve.clason | Jul 13, 2014 |
näyttää 4/4
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Englanninkielinen Wikipedia (1)

A prizewinning foreign correspondent and former New York Timesbureau 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 trade; 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 labor; 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 expose, 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.

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