SMA hosted a speaker session with Dr. Deborah Bräutigam (Bernard L. Schwartz Professor of International Political Economy & Director of the SAIS China Africa Research Initiative (CARI), Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS)) as part of its SMA AFRICOM/INDOPACOM Speaker Session.
Dr. Bräutigam stated that examining evidence-based analysis of China’s investments into Africa shows China’s economic motives and activities more clearly than media headlines that accuse China of creating debt traps. China’s model for economic deals in Africa are based on economic deals China received from Japan during its own development and modernization, which occurred in the late 1970s. This deal revolved around money for infrastructure in exchange for access to natural resources. To further its economic goals in the region, China has sent political representatives to many African countries. This increased political and economic interaction between China and Africa has resulted in concern by the US that China will steal the region’s resources. Some Africans also share this concern among others, which include poor working conditions and ruining Africa’s natural resources.
However, China is still viewed positively by most of Africa’s populations. For most Africans, China is actually considered as the second-best model for economic development—behind the US. China has focused its investments in the region’s transportation and infrastructure, which has allowed them to also curry political favor with heads of state. Dr. Bräutigam argued that the common perception of China developing debt traps is a false representation of China’s political actions and motives. Instead, she cited several instances of African countries going to their Chinese lenders and easily restructuring loans or receiving loan extensions.
Note: We are aware that many government IT providers have blocked access to YouTube from government machines during the pandemic in response to bandwidth limitations. We recommend viewing the recording on YouTube from a non-government computer or listening to the audio file (below), if you are in this position.