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The Dragon's Gift: The Real Story of China in Africa [Hardcover]

Deborah Brautigam
4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
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Book Description

19 Nov 2009
Is China a rogue donor, as some media pundits suggest? Or is China helping the developing world pave a pathway out of poverty, as the Chinese claim? In the last few years, China's aid program has leapt out of the shadows. Media reports about huge aid packages, support for pariah regimes, regiments of Chinese labor, and the ruthless exploitation of workers and natural resources in some of the poorest countries in the world sparked fierce debates. These debates, however, took place with very few hard facts. China's tradition of secrecy about its aid fueled rumors and speculation, making it difficult to gauge the risks and opportunities provided by China's growing embrace. This well-timed book, by one of the world's leading experts, provides the first comprehensive account of China's aid and economic cooperation overseas. Deborah Brautigam tackles the myths and realities, explaining what the Chinese are doing, how they do it, how much aid they give, and how it all fits into their "going global" strategy. Drawing on three decades of experience in China and Africa, and hundreds of interviews in Africa, China, Europe and the US, Brautigam shines new light on a topic of great interest. China has ended poverty for hundreds of millions of its own citizens. Will Chinese engagement benefit Africa? Using hard data and a series of vivid stories ranging across agriculture, industry, natural resources, and governance, Brautigam's fascinating book provides an answer. It is essential reading for anyone concerned with China's rise, and what it might mean for the challenge of ending poverty in Africa.

Product details

  • Hardcover: 416 pages
  • Publisher: OUP Oxford (19 Nov 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0199550220
  • ISBN-13: 978-0199550227
  • Product Dimensions: 2.7 x 16.5 x 24.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 585,339 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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Bucking the conventional wisdom that China's substantial increases in aid to the region are motivated by short-term commercial and strategic interests, Brautigam's lively and thoroughly documented account emphasizes that Chinese motivations are broader and more long term. Nicolas Van de Walle, Foreign Affairs A timely [and] important book...fascinating. Book of the week. Ian Birrell, The Independent Compelling Rob Crilly, Irish Times [A] fascinating and comprehensive guide to China's growing influence in Africa... You are unlikely to find a more thorough, comprehensive and open-minded account of the subject. Dan Glazebrook, Morning Star [A] richly detailed book... well-informed Howard W. French, The National The Dragon's Gift, a new book by Deborah Brautigam, looks behind [the] media hype. It offers surprising insights and challenges us to take a new look at Africa's development...thoughtful and well-researched...the basis for a well-informed, interesting dialogue with Chinese actors. The Huffington Post Any book claiming to tell the 'real story' sets its standards high, but this one succeeds admirably. For those interested in China-Africa relations, it enriches the field, defines new research standards and is constructively provocative. For those new to the subject, it is an essential text about a compelling, increasingly consequential relationship. Daniel Large, The Broker This is an important addition to the already considerable literature on China-Africa. Policy makers and journalists should read it Peter Wood, Asian Review of Books Brautigam's superb book, the fruit of decades of research and travel throughout Africa and China... this highly accessible and rigorous book may come to be viewed as a canonical text in the China-Africa development debate. Sean Burges, International Affairs Brautigam successfully provides scholars of the ChinaAfrica relationship with a new analytical framework, information, and viewpoints...this highly recommended volume shows that Chinese are business-oriented developers and revolutionizes the concept that China is a hasty donor in Africa. The China Quarterly The Dragons Gift will be for a long time the lodestone of informed discussion of how China and Chinese interact with Africa and Africans. Barry Sautman, China Journal An incisive excellent read Suresh George, Regional Studies a superbly written and exquisitely researched book ... the value of the books contribution to a worthy debate is without question. Jane Golley, Economic Record The Dragon's Gift is a path-breaking book, one that was urgently needed and one which deserves to be widely noticed and read. It not only provides an in-depth analysis of contemporary relations of China with Africa, located within their proper historical context, but meticulously presents, critiques and successfully challenges the array of myths, fears, and misinformation which abound in both press reports and some academic studies of China in Africa. Roger C. Riddell, Author of Does Foreign Aid Really Work? If you want to know what China is really doing in Africa, this is the one book to read. The Dragon's Gift corrects the misinformation of both critics and defenders of China's role on the continent. Beijing has a long-term, well-planned strategy that goes way beyond a drive to claim minerals and oil. Yet Africans are benefiting from China's mixture of aid and investment; Western aid officials could learn from it. I was surprised by new facts on almost every page. Brautigam has given us a compelling, objective, and very readable account enlivened by her personal experiences and interviews. Susan Shirk, Ho Miu Lam Professor of China and Pacific Relations, University of California, San Diego and Director, University of California Institute on Global Conflict and Cooperation Deborah Brautigam has produced a superbly written and exquisitely researched book on a hotly debated topic ... The book is particularly strong on addressing the question of what the Chinese are doing in their new wave of aid and economic cooperation across Africa. Jane Golley, The Economic Record

About the Author

Deborah Brautigam is the author of Chinese Aid and African Development (1998), Aid Dependence and Governance (2000), and coeditor of Taxation and State-Building in Developing Countries (2008). A long-time observer of Asia and Africa, she has lived in China, West Africa and Southern Africa, and traveled extensively across both regions as a Fulbright researcher and consultant for the World Bank, the UN, and other development agencies. She is a professor in the International Development Program at American University's School of International Service in Washington, DC.

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Customer Reviews

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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Shines new light on a topic of great interest 27 Nov 2009
American University Professor Deborah Brautigam writes that China is listening to Africa.

All good relationships involve communication. In the past. when South Africa complained about the "tsunami" of textiles from China, Beijing agreed to voluntary export restraints. When Zambian workers rioted at Chinese-owned mines, Chinese officials openly criticized the owners' labor practices. There are clearly rocky areas in this relationship, but on balance, Brautigam sees more on the positive side of the ledger that the Chinese are doing well by Africa.

Brautigam believes it is up to Africans to ensure that the net result for Africa is good. China's huge demand for Africa's commodities has created new opportunities for African governments to realize the hopes of their people for a better life. Countries that set their house in order, can position themselves to benefit, and those that do not will find their resources continue to be simply a "curse"--with or without China.

China has ratcheted up its manufacturing investment in Africa, where new industries were sorely needed to counter decades of deindustrialization. China has established investment funds to promote Chinese investment in Africa. Teams from China have visited Mauritius, South Africa, and elsewhere - scouting locations for enterprise zones and industrial districts, which would join Chinese industrial zones in Ethiopia, Zambia, and Nigeria, and Chinese factories making batteries in Mozambique, shoes in Nigeria, ethyl alcohol in Benin, and a host of other products across the continent.

Chinese factories offer not only jobs--they also use production technologies that African entrepreneurs can easily adopt.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Dragon's Gift 22 April 2010
The Dragon's Gift is a well written and researched critique of thinking about Western aid to Africa. Presented in an accessible style, it answers many questions about China's interest and interests in Africa. Deborah Brautigam draws on her own extensive development experience in several continents, to draw a pciture of the very different principles underlying Chinese aid philosophy. She suggests that some criticisms of China's alleged exploitation in Africa originates in vested interests from the West.This is a great book for those interested in global aid and trade.The Dragon's Gift: The Real Story of China in Africa
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A tale of two worldviews 25 May 2012
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
China's recent engagement with Africa has been greeted with deep suspicion by Western media and policymakers. For instance, U.S. secretary of state Hilary Clinton has insinuated that the Chinese are the `new colonisers' of the continent. But how true is this story of putative economic and social domination? Professor Deborah Brautigam drills down beneath the superficial media reports to understand the role that the Chinese on the continent. As a management researcher, I wanted to see detailed case study accounts as well as some statistical analysis of the numbers on trade and FDI. Thankfully, Ms. Brautigam did not disappoint me.

Ms. Brautigam's thesis is simple: Chinese aid to Africa is modeled on the Chinese experience receiving aid from the Japanese after 1978. The Chinese state received technology and infrastructure aid from Japan after the Cultural Revolution; in return, China paid Japan by providing mineral concessions to Japanese companies. Chinese aid then was not based on compassion, but on complementarities of needs: the Chinese wanted technology and machinery while the Japanese wanted natural resources.

Ms. Brautigam's account of the Chinese presence in Africa is informed by her extensive research (over 30years) in Africa and by her access to African leaders and the foreign aid establishment in China. Her accounts of Chinese projects in Sierra Leone and Zambia are very rich. She tells the story of the key protagonists and their motivations: the ministers of agriculture, the farmers, the sometimes clueless Chinese investors and local communities. She paints a nuanced picture of China's engagement in Africa.
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Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Debuffs many myths and presents a different perspective to the mainstream media "China's Horrible!"

Especially interesting is, of course, the double standards the traditional donors and investors adopt when using this statement.

While pointing these things out and providing some mythbusting, the book also retains a balanced view and is far from a "China advocacy" book.

Read it critically, but accept that what you've continuously been told in the media isn't necessarily true.

A must-read!
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