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Day 1 14:00 Panel 6

China and Africa

Upper Hall

Chen Lin, Thomas Burnham, Wu Binfang

Chen Lin

KU Leuven, Year 2 PhD in Social Sciences

This paper focuses on explore the essential elements that draw the fast-growth African student population from 1,384 in year 1999 to 61,594 in year 2015 to choose China as their destination for higher education. Based on analysis on the annually historical data of number of African students in China from each country of origin, China has surpassed the United Kingdom and the United States becoming the second most popular destination for African student migrants after France in year 2013. The top major choices for African students have changed from language study to engineering and medical study from year 1999 to 2015. The research finds that the gap of GDP per capita between China and country of origin of African students, the policy incentives on growing number of scholarships within the Forum of China and African Cooperation since year 2000, and the lower living and tuition cost in China than in western countries are the essential driven elements for the African students to study in China. They are aiming to accumulate potential human capital under lower cost and with higher return of education to bridge the individual income gap between China and their country of origin. In addition, the increasing rate of common usage of online social networks between China and Africa had accelerated the information and experience sharing and spreading among students migrants communities, universities forum, and helped on decreasing the cost and time in online pre-admission language studies, university application, migration decision making process for African students.

Thomas Burnham

University of Oxford Year 1 DPhil

In the general context of the Cold War, the Soviet Union and the People’s Republic of China both employed foreign aid to realize their foreign policy goals. With the deepening of the Sino-Soviet Split in the 1960s their aid diplomacy increasingly came into competition. A primary arena of that competition was in Africa, which the Soviet Union saw as part of the “soft underbelly of imperialism” and which China saw as the battleground of the continuing world revolution. Soviet and Chinese aid packages to the newly independent African countries which were open to them consisted of various combinations of grants (including military and industrial equipment, commodities, convertible currency, etc.), loans/credits, and technical assistance.

This paper will examine the early period of Soviet and Chinese aid diplomacy in the West African countries of Ghana, Guinea, and Mali between 1960 and 1963. Comparing and contrasting Soviet and Chinese aid to West Africa will be done by analysing some of the differences in the negotiation and implementation of the treaties, agreements, and protocols which facilitated their aid and how these differences were received by officials in the target countries. Of particular interest to the author is the regulation, behaviour, and reception of Soviet and Chinese aid personnel and how these factors influenced the effectiveness of their aid diplomacy in Africa.

This project will use treaties, agreements, and protocols as publicized in print media such as the Peking Review and as described by publications from the Institute of African Studies in the Russian Federation. In addition to drawing on the Foreign Policy Archive of the Russian Federation and the United States General Records of the Department of State, this paper will also draw on previously collected materials from the Chinese Foreign Ministry Archives to examine diplomatic cables and reports assessing foreign aid to Africa.

Wu Binfang

Canterbury Christ Church University, Year 2 PhD in education studies

This article explores how ‘African’ international students make meaning of China in their daily interactions with Chinese in/-outside the Chinese higher education campus. While there is a growing interest in Africans in China, ‘African’ students in Chinese higher educational settings still remain much overlooked, though the number of them grows rapidly during recent years. For a deeper, nuanced understanding of ‘African’ students’ localised conceptualisation of China and/or China’s role in the world, I undertook a half year fieldwork study at a Chinese university in Zhejiang. During the autumn 2018 - 2019 school year, I stayed in the students dormitory which accommodates Chinese and international students together. Immersed myself in the fieldwork site, I employ the classic ethnographical methods to collect the data, taking participant observations in three Chinese language classes for new arrivals, the church, the canteen, as well as in the dormitory and hospital, informal conversations during the class break, on the way to restaurants, New Year galas, and also semi-structured interviews towards my 12 key informants. Intertwined with my fieldwork diary, the data is later woven into three vignettes, presented in this article, to capture ‘African’ students’ interaction with local Chinese, for instance, moments of picture-taking requirement, the ‘international friendship’ treatment given by medical professionals and university canteen staff, simultaneously, devalued in part-time jobs seeking and by a taxi driver. These moments of interaction constitute ‘African’ students understanding of (being in) China and how China is a part of the globalised world. I argue that what China is in the world should also be explicated, epistemologically and locally, that is, by asking how it is perceived in nuanced international and intercultural interactions.

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