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Question: Should America be leery of China’s growing influence in Africa?

Gideon Rose: A lot of people have talked about China’s growing role in Africa. I personally am not particularly either upset or surprised by this because realistically what’s going on is simply the increased role that China is playing in the globe at large as you would expect a growing economic power to play. And it’s focused on resource plays, it’s focused on buying up and securing energy sources and materials and various things that will fuel the continued growth of the Chinese economy, and it’s exactly what you’d expect. So I actually don’t find anything all that particularly significant or all that particularly destabilizing or stressful about that. It’s, again, a reality of the world that we’re living in, which is that if you’re really big and you’re really rich and you’re growing, you’re going to basically be playing a larger and I don’t see the Chinese role in Africa as something the United States has to be dramatically concerned about or needs to counter in any way. It certainly has some adverse consequences because since the Chinese don’t care about various kinds of human rights issues and they don’t care about political freedoms, they’re more than happy to deal with dictators, they’re more than happy to overlook all sorts of trouble if their particular immediate needs are taken care of.

But you know what? In the long run, the Chinese might well find that stability and sustainably healthy, viable local communities and polities are in their best interests as well. So, the more they play a role in the world, the more the Chinese become a stakeholder and hopefully over time, they will be what the American official, Bob Zelleck asked them to be a while back, which is a responsible stakeholder and that’s what we are all looking forward to seeing. And rather than being frightened or freaked out by an increasing Chinese global role, we should basically you know, see it as part of China’s coming onto the world stage.

Recorded November 17, 2010
Interviewed by Max Miller

Produced / Directed by Jonathan Fowler

More from the Big Idea for Monday, February 28 2011


China and Africa: A Love Story

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