Monday, August 30, 2010

Do We Have Statistics on China's Africa "Land Grab"?

Commercial investment in agriculture in low income countries is a hot button issue, for many good reasons. Often linked to corruption, frequently involving unscrupulous grabbing of land from unprotected traditional holders, the transfer of land from subsistence or smallholder use to commercial or large-scale use is fraught with problems and nearly impossible to manage in a socially sustainable manner. But that's all the more reason to be scrupulous with our evidence and accusations.

A couple of days ago, I had an email from a student who wondered what I thought of "the statistics of IFPRI, GRAIN, FAO" on China's "land grabs". I answered that IFPRI, GRAIN, and FAO did not actually have any statistics on Chinese land investments. They only had collections of media reports. With regard to Africa, many of these media reports are quite off the mark.

Here's a bit more detail that might be helpful to new (and more senior) researchers who are tempted to use these "statistics".

(1) IFPRI: The International Food Policy Research Institute, part of the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research, or CGIAR, compiled media reports of land-grabbing in an April 2009 policy brief. The original version of this policy brief contained a large table simply listing "Overseas Investments". I contacted IFPRI and suggested that although the text mentioned the sources as "media reports", titling the table "Investments" was misleading, suggesting that these reports were all actually real and the investments underway. They then revised the title of the table to state that these were "Media Reports" of investments.

In the course of this, I had an interesting exchange on the veracity of some of the China/Africa media reports with the IFPRI authors on their blog -- to see this exchange on the IFPRI website, click here. After this exchange, which was in the spring of 2009, I went to Mozambique and Zimbabwe myself, and was able to confirm my hunches on both of these cases, as I report in The Dragon's Gift. In the spring of 2010, IFPRI invited me to present my research on China's agricultural engagement. For a link to the presentation, click here, and for a three minute interview, click here.

(2) GRAIN:  GRAIN is an international advocacy organization supporting the rights and livelihoods of small farmers. GRAIN lists "China" along with the Gulf states as "the biggest players" in their 2008 study of the new land grabs. Chinese companies have made, or tried to make, several big investments in Asia and Latin America. These can be confirmed. But in Africa, for the most part, this hasn't been the case.

The GRAIN researchers were not very diligent about validating their sources for African "cases". For example, GRAIN reported that China had set up the China Africa Development Fund in 2008 with $5 billion to invest in African agriculture. Their source: a 2008 article in a local Liberian newspaper. It would not have taken much fact-checking for the GRAIN researchers to determine that the China Africa Development Fund was actually established by China Development Bank as an equity fund in 2007. It began with $1 billion to invest in any kind of profitable project in Africa: infrastructure, manufacturing, mining, agro-industry, etc. When the fund reaches its full size, it is expected to be $5 billion. It is a rather substantial error to say that it is focused on agriculture.

Like IFPRI, GRAIN also compiled a table of "land grabs" as reported by the media. They include most of the same stories. With regard to Africa, as I reported in The Dragon's Gift, I looked into the three major stories of "large land grabs" -- the DRC, Zimbabwe, and Mozambique -- and found little or no substance to two of them (the DRC case which I have discussed elsewhere on this blog, does have some substance. How much is still unclear).

To my mind, the worst case of misrepresentation at GRAIN's list is probably the Mozambique story, reproduced below from their website:
According to a study by Loro Horta, the son of Timor L’Este’s President Ramos Horta, the Chinese government has been investing in infrastructure development, policy reform, research, extension and training to develop rice production in Mozambique for export to China since 2006. Eximbank has already provided a loan of US$2bn and pledged an additional US$800m for these works, though more is expected. Some 10,000 Chinese settlers will be involved. G2G contracts and land leases are still under negotiation, though. Land cannot be owned by foreigners in Mozambique, so joint partnerships with "sleeping" Mozambican entities may need to be struck.
There are so many mistakes in this, I hardly know where to begin to address it. It will have to be the subject of a separate post.

(3) FAO: The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations, has sponsored an excellent recent study focused on Africa:  FAO, IFAD & IIED. 2009. Land Grab or Development Opportunity? by Lorenzo Cotula, Sonja Vermeulen, Rebeca Leonard and James Keeley. This study actually had the funding to do fieldwork and interview companies, and the researchers were quite careful. They don't produce "statistics" but they do examine a number of cases.

With regard to Chinese "land grabs" in Africa (and elsewhere) the authors say: "A common external perception is that China is supporting Chinese enterprises to acquire land abroad as part of a national food security strategy. Yet the evidence for this is highly questionable..."

They also note "as yet there are no known examples of Chinese land acquisitions in Africa in excess of 50,000 hectares where deals have been concluded and project implemented."

Soon, we should be able to read the World Bank's study on "land grabs" which is due to be published in the latter half of 2010. With the kind of budget and access enjoyed by the World Bank, we might see more authoritative coverage of this issue. More on this in a future post.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

The Chinese Communist Party and African Agriculture

One of CSFAC's investments in Africa. (photo James Keeley)
Are Chinese companies pushing aside their party comrades when it comes to investment in African agriculture? A recent China Daily news article (excerpt below) reported on a China-Africa agricultural cooperation conference held in mid-August 2010 in Beijing, co-sponsored by China's Ministry of Agriculture and the International Department of the Communist Party of China Central Committee.

Two things interested me. First, the CCP's co-sponsorship of the conference, which, to me, indicates that agricultural cooperation is still viewed primarily as a political venture rather than an economic one. If it was an economic venture, I would expect to see it co-sponsored by the Ministry of Commerce's Department of Outward Investment and Economic Cooperation.

Second, the quotation below from China State Farm Agribusiness Corporation indicates lessons learned from past efforts to invest using "party to party" links. In The Dragon's Gift, I note several other interesting examples of this "learning from failed political aid projects" in Ghana.
"The fragile political situation is still the biggest challenge for Chinese companies to invest in Africa," Xu Jun, deputy general manager of China State Farms Agribusiness Corporation (CSFAC), told China Daily on Tuesday. Last year, a cooperative program worth more than 70 million yuan ($10 million) between the CSFAC and Ghana's ruling party came to an abrupt halt when the opposition party took office, he said.
"Now we prefer to talk with government administrations instead of party leaders when it comes to further cooperation," Xu said.
The CSFAC is one of the country's leading agriculture resources development companies. It started its first farm in Africa in 1994 and now operates seven farming projects across Africa, with more than 8,600 hectares of land. 
Finally, it is also interesting to see how small, and how few, CSFAC's investments in Africa have been. In a 2003 article on, CSFAC was said to have 11 projects in Africa (some could have been processing) on about 16,000 hectares of land. If these figures are in the right ballpark, CSFAC's investments in Africa have shrunk over this decade, rather than expanding. Greater emphasis on a market rationale rather than a political rationale might be the reason.

Monday, August 23, 2010

The Real Cost of Chinese Railway Construction in Nigeria

Train in Lagos, Nigeria (photo: Accelerator, Nigeria)
For several years, stories about China Civil Engineering and Construction Corp (CCECC)'s $8.3 billion Lagos-Kano railway modernization contract have circulated in Nigeria and in the international press. The editor of Foreign Policy, Moises Naim, for example, mistakenly claimed in the New York Times that China was giving $9 billion in aid to finance this project. (There was actually no aid offered, although a preferential export credit of $500 million was discussed in connection with the railway).

Nigeria's existing, colonial-era railway between Lagos and Kano is far from adequate for a major transportation artery, antiquated, non-standard (narrow) gauge, and single track. However, I've read that CCECC's price for the new railway was "hugely inflated," that the project was hastily delivered to CCECC without proper tendering, and that there was not an inadequate "front end design" and/or feasibility study before awarding the contract.

I've been doing research in Nigeria off and on since 1987. I know that Nigerians are rightly suspicious of any large infrastructure project proposed for their country. They have bitter experience of money being "eaten", cost overruns, and white elephants. Was the CCECC project, recently scaled back, fated to be another in this long line?

Several weeks ago, Professor Richard Joseph sent me a photocopy of a fascinating full page ad published by CCECC in the Guardian (Lagos) on June 18, 2008, in which CCECC defended their 2006 contract, in particular the claim in the June 15, 2008 Sunday Punch (Lagos) that the contract was "inflated by $5.8bn" and should have cost $2.5bn.

CCECC contends that:
  • An initial feasibility study for the project was produced by the Nigerian branch of the international engineering firm Julius Berger together with an Italian firm, TEAM Consultants, in 2001. CCECC says they also conducted a "detailed feasibility study" before they participated in a limited tender, and an environmental impact assessment after the contract was awarded.
  • They produced 4 possible designs for the railway: (1) Rehabilitation of existing narrow gauge, single track for $1.76 billion; (2) Rehabilitation plus 2nd new narrow gauge, double track for $6.7 billion; (3) New, standard gauge, single track line for $5.81 billion; (4) New standard gauge, double track except Abuja-Kaduna, for $8.3 billion.
  • In April 2006, along with two other (unnamed) "pre-qualified companies", CCECC was invited to submit tender documents, which they did in June 2006 (yes, this does seem hasty).
  • Their costs were very reasonable.
Let's look into the cost issue further.

An important Chatham House report cited an interview with an unnamed World Bank official in Abuja, May 2008, who said that $3.04m per km was "double the cost it should have been." The report noted that a review by the Yar A'dua administration "discovered the costs to be highly inflated" but they didn't question the reports of this review. If the costs were "double" then this implies that the proper cost should have been around $1.52m per km. 

CCECC claimed that their bid for the double-track railway, at US$3.04 million per km, was low compared with the "international average construction cost of US$3.50m per km". (The railway distance is 1315 km. For a double track, this makes 2703 km x $3.04 or $8.22bn.)

As I read all this, I wondered:  what do we know about railway construction costs?  Is there any way to shed light on these various claims? I turned to Google.

I learned that costs per km are affected by a number of things, including materials, the terrain, and so on. But there is actually plenty of information on this online if one wanted to check general ballpark figures for reasonable costs of railway construction.

For example, news reports on a number of projects at the Railway Gazette website give costs, including a project financed in 2009 by the Asian Development Bank in Afghanistan: a 75km project for $170m, or $2.26m per km (single-track).

In 2008, Libya began a railway project, a standard gauge, double-track line awarded to Russian Railways, for a cost of 2.2 bn Euros ($2.8 billion) for 554 km, or $5m per km. Libya later signed a contract in 2009 with China Railway Construction Corporation for $805m for 172 km of railway on the Tripoli-Ras Edjer line ($4.7m per km).

A January 6, 2009 article in the Guardian (Lagos) by Moses Ebosele, "Lack of Policy Trails Nigerian Railway in 2008," quoted from a World Bank study (for Nigeria?) which "estimated capital cost of conversion from the present narrow gauge railway to standard gauge at between $1.5m and $5.0m per route km." Averaging these would give us $3.25m per km. (This doesn't say whether the standard gauge would be single or double-track.)

Here in Washington, DC, I found that our fancy new Dulles Airport Aerotrain cost $1.5 billion for only 3.8 miles (6.12km), or US$245.0m per km! Of course this is an extremely nice train. We're very happy with it.

Clearly without knowing the specifics of the Lagos-Kano line, it's hard to say which estimate is the most reasonable, or even whether the entire project was a good idea or not. But this little survey suggests that the contract costs of $3.04m per km in the CCECC contract do not look out of line. 

Indeed, in November 2009, CCECC and a new Nigerian administration signed a new contract. This contract is for a shorter, 200km stretch of railway between Abuja and Kaduna. This new project is estimated to cost $876 million, or $4.38m per km. The $500 million preferential export credit from China Eximbank will be applied to this project.

Whatever the details of the new contract, it's clear that three years and much negotiation later, the cost per km rose rather than fell. Which is what one would expect, given inflation.
But perhaps Nigerians with access to the inside story will have a different view of all this?

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Chinese Prisoners Rumor Redux: South China Morning Post

Stirring up trouble

Claims that China sends convicts to labour in Africa are unfounded

Email to friend Print a copy Bookmark and Share

What more could promoters of the "China threat" idea add to the litany of charges that have grown stale over a decade? One claim is that China sends convicts to labour in developing countries. We have been to 10 African countries to research China-Africa links. Rumours of Chinese convicts circulate in each one. 

The notion is not new. In the 1970s, 60,000 Chinese laboured alongside an equal number of local workers to build the Tanzania-Zambia Railway. As US historian of the railway Jamie Monson describes it, when the first 1,000 Chinese workers arrived in Tanzania, "all wearing identical gray cotton suits and balancing small blue suitcases on their shoulders ... crowds of curious onlookers gathered, some speculating that the strangers were soldiers or prisoners sentenced to hard labour."

In Africa, rumours of Chinese prisoners arise because of cultural differences in work and living habits. The rigorous working pace and discipline of Chinese employees give rise to the idea that anyone who would work so hard must be a prisoner. Also, skilled Chinese workers and engineers do not live like Western expats, who in Africa have individual houses and local servants. Many Chinese live collectively, often sharing rooms, and do their own housework. Often, local people cannot conceive that foreign professionals would live that way and imagine them to be prisoners
Popular rumours circulate for other reasons as well. In Zambia's Copperbelt, we interviewed a leader of the opposition Patriotic Front (PF). The party's  head, Michael Sata, is famous for his anti-Chinese mobilisations and once claimed that "Zambia has become a labour camp. Most of the Chinese are prisoners of conscience."

The Copperbelt PF leader explained to us, however, that Zambians think that "if 100 Chinese come, 20 of them are skilled and the other 80 are unskilled prisoners ... it's a way for local people to demean the Chinese and to say we're better than the [prisoners]".

In some developing countries, rumour-mongering has a more deliberate aim and seems to be fostered as part of competition between local and Chinese construction companies. Claims of Chinese convict labourers have been made by a prominent local building firm owner in Sri Lanka and by the chief executive of a "leading player" in Kenya's construction industry. In Namibia, the owner of a local construction company told a wire service: "We have a hard time getting jobs from government, while the Chinese ship in container-loads of prisoners to work on public projects." No evidence is ever presented.

Then there is the political element; what better way to deflate the soft power of a strategic competitor than to claim that it exports prison labour and thereby undermines the employment opportunities of host peoples?

A 2010 US State Department report on human trafficking asserts that "an increasing number of Chinese and Indian men recruited to work in Chinese- or Indian-owned mines in Zambia's Copperbelt region are reportedly exploited by the mining companies in forced labour. After work hours, some Chinese miners are confined to guarded compounds surrounded by high concrete walls topped by electrified barbed wire."

We have interviewed Chinese at mines in Zambia. They are salaried, highly skilled workers, engineers or managers. Their compounds' walls and wire serve the same function as similar structures throughout Africa: to keep out intruders.

It is one thing for average people to misunderstand the presence of guest workers in their countries and quite another for competing businesspeople, politicians and researchers to take part in rumour-mongering. Brahma Chellaney, a strategic studies specialist, has recently done that. Chellaney's sensational, but unsubstantiated, charge got his essay about it into prominent newspapers globally, including this newspaper.

Neither we nor other researchers have found evidence to confirm the Chinese prisoners rumour. Let's take but a few examples. Deborah Brautigam, a US specialist in China-Africa relations, has said: "I ask about this issue fairly frequently during my research and have never come across any evidence of Chinese prisoners working in Africa." Anna Ying Chen, research associate at the South African Institute of International Affairs, has averred that "the rumour that Chinese companies employ prisoners who are confined to their own camp to save costs is indeed a misperception". And Swiss journalists Serge Michel and Michel Beuret, who visited many African countries for a book about the Chinese presence, have said that "in all our travels we have not met a single [Chinese prisoner] and feel free to assert that this is anti-Chinese propaganda".

Anti-Chinese propaganda or not, those who spread such rumours cannot explain why China's government would incur the reputational risk and expense to do so. After all, few convicts are highly skilled and, in developing countries, such labour is relatively cheap. Often claims are based on the idea that China is overflowing with prisoners, but, in fact, it has about the same number of people imprisoned (including all those in "administrative detention") as the US does, despite a population that is more than four times as large.

There may be some former Chinese prisoners among the hundreds of thousands of Chinese working in developing countries, but to contend without evidence that the Chinese government has a programme of sending out great numbers of prisoners is another matter.

Barry Sautman is a political scientist and lawyer at Hong Kong University of Science & Technology. Yan Hairong is an anthropologist at Hong Kong Polytechnic University

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Chinese Entrepreneurs and Workers in Africa: An Angola Story

Chinese workers in Angola (BBC).
In 2008, Chinese companies reported a turnover of around $20 billion from construction contracts in Africa. Tessa Thorniley gives us a firsthand look inside  the world of Chinese business in Africa in her recent Danwei article: "Chinese Entrepreneurs in Africa, Land of a Billion Workers." An excerpt on Angola follows: 
...In Portuguese-speaking Angola, which pumps two million barrels of oil a day, the two communities [Chinese and African] are even further apart. Meng Mei, born in France to Chinese parents, has been working in Luanda since 2008. "In my experience there is almost no contact between the locals and Chinese workers. There is no integration. On the construction sites, the Chinese usually live on site. They live, work and sleep there. They don't go out. It's quite similar to the way migrant workers behave in China. They save money and send it home.
"For me, however, it is quite odd. I am Chinese but born and raised abroad. The Chinese workers do not go to movies or out to restaurants very much and they certainly don't do this with the locals. Some higher-ups may interact more, but only for business purposes," she says.
The lack of strong ties between the communities has created distrust and resentment.
There are long-simmering tensions over the number of Chinese workers brought over by firms doing unskilled jobs that could have been given to local laborers. The Angolan government has tightened its immigration policies, and the cost of winning a long-term visa for a Chinese worker, together with travel costs and welfare payments, has risen to as much as USD20,000.
In response, Chinese companies have tried to take on more local staff, according to William Wang, an IT engineer who works with Meng Mei in Angola. “Back in 2008, maybe you would only see Chinese workers in Chinese companies but that has changed a lot in the last two years. I know a Chinese construction boss in Luanda, he hires 70 Chinese workers and 500 or 600 locals. It's not uncommon," he says. "I don't think the Angolans feel we are taking jobs. We have created employment also."
He adds: “In the past, I think there were problems because even the brightest Angolans had no real expertise – because of the war they didn't have much chance to develop. An IT engineer was qualified if he could switch on a computer and type. That's not the case anymore. Universities are training Angolans and they are increasingly skilled. Perhaps Chinese companies doing business here incentivised that?”
For the full article, click here.

Tessa's reporting suggests a few enduring conclusions: (1) Chinese companies respond to local conditions and incentives. (2) Analysts always need to keep in mind that the China-Africa relationship is evolving quickly. For more on these changes, see the August 20, 2010 Wall Street Journal article by Benoit Faucon and Sherry Wu: "Hostility Toward Workers Cools Angola-China Relationship."

Friday, August 13, 2010

Is China Sending Prisoners to Work Overseas?

Yesterday I received an email from a UNDP colleague asking me what I thought about recent media stories of "Chinese convict labor" being used overseas, and the public denial of this practice by the Chinese Ministry of Commerce.

Here's the story: Early in July, several papers including the Washington Times and the Sri Lanka Guardian and the Japan Times published an opinion piece written by a New Delhi-based security analyst, Dr. Brahma Chellaney, a former journalist and currently a professor at the Centre for Policy Research in New Delhi. Chellaney wrote that China was engaged in "the forced dispatch of prisoners to work on overseas infrastructure projects". He said that Sri Lanka had "thousands of Chinese convicts" working on infrastucture projects in Sri Lanka and that convicts from China were also building 4,000 houses as part of China's tsunami reconstruction aid project in the Maldives. Earlier, in June, opposition politicians in Sri Lanka had claimed that 25,000 Chinese convict labourers were working on the island. At the end of July, the op-ed was carried in Canada's Globe and Mail, and appeared on the Guardian UK (website). I hear it is now being discussed in Brazil.

In a later interview with The Hindu, Chellaney did not give any information about his sources but said that they were "unimpeachable." He told Bloomberg News: “The opinion piece was based on actual investigations and thorough fact-checking and I stand by what I wrote,” Chellaney said. “That they deny is not a surprise.”

The Hindu also quoted an African diplomat, who raised practical questions about the claim:  “Chinese workers overseas is already a sensitive issue, just by their being there and working on projects in large numbers,” said a diplomat from an African country. “Why on earth will China make matters worse by shipping out criminals? It is very hard to believe.”

Dr. Chellaney actually provided no sources, no evidence, and no specifics to support his claim. I've never heard of him, so I asked a friend and former classmate who is a New Delhi-based foreign policy expert whether Dr. Chellaney was a credible source. Here is part of what he replied: "He is a bit of an ultranationalist ... I read this story. I don't believe it. Brahma tends to fly off the deep end sometimes while he is China bashing..." Chellaney's blog contains several other recent articles on China, including "Sri Lanka: Another Case in China's Blood-Soaked Diplomacy" and  "Insatiable Dragon."

I have heard stories of forced Chinese prison labor overseas but these happened during the colonial period:  the British and the Dutch dispatched Chinese and other prisoners to work off their sentences in a number of overseas locations, including South Africa. As noted by Malia Politzer in Migration Information:
The first wave of Chinese immigrants to South Africa was small (only 17 Chinese names were on a convict list dated the year 1724) and consisted largely of convicts and ex-convicts banished from Indonesia to South Africa under Dutch colonial rule. ... Chinese convicts who did come over were considered "black" and largely treated as slaves... 
Although Dr. Chellaney reported that the forced export of prisoners is a "new policy", the claim about modern-day Chinese convict labor in Africa has been around for many years. For example, in May 1991, Roberta Cohen, a trustee for the International League for Human Rights, and a former State Department political appointee, wrote a letter to the New York Times claiming that when she lived in Benin in the 1980s, she had "learned" that Chinese prison labor was being used there. "Seventy percent to 75 percent of the construction workers building the Dassa-Parakou road in central Benin were known to be prisoners" she said, but provided no information as to how she had "learned" this, or how this was "known".

The German paper Der Spiegel reported opposition politician Michael Sata's claim that 80,000 "former prisoners" from China were working in Zambia. Getting more specific, Richard Behar in Fast Company said that he had interviewed an immigration "consultant" in Zambia who said she had "processed paperwork for hundreds of Chinese prisoners." (This made me curious:  How did she know they were prisoners? Behar didn't say.).

Chinese engineers quarters, Sierra Leone 2007. Photo by DB
My best guess is that stories like this are largely urban myths. People view the way that Chinese construction workers live, in extremely basic conditions like those on the left, in compounds on the construction site. These construction sites are usually surrounded by security fences, but this is to keep the construction site secure, and in particular, to prevent the stealing of construction materials, rather than to keep the workers locked inside.

Since the Chinese first began exporting labor in the late 1970s, they have sent 4,970,000 people to work abroad (including to Hong Kong) according to official statistics from the Ministry of Commerce.

Forcing prisoners to work overseas as official policy, as Dr. Challaney maintains, is most unlikely. Is it possible that some Chinese prisoners might have been sent overseas voluntarily, on the kind of work release apparently practiced even today in the state of Louisiana for the BP oil spill cleanup? Certainly, prison labor is commonplace in China, as it is in some parts of America. Given the high levels of corruption, the need for local governments to raise revenues, and the multiple Chinese actors operating overseas, it's plausible that a contractor could make a deal with local prison officials. But exporting large contingents of prison labor as official policy would be politically very risky. If it has happened, it is almost certainly uncommon and ad hoc.

I ask about this issue fairly frequently during my research and have never come across any  hard facts or evidence of Chinese prisoners working in Africa. But after giving a talk at a university here in the US a few months ago, I met a student who told me that he actually had some evidence on this from his own travels. I have encouraged him to write this up and will link to his blog if he decides to do so.

What do other researchers say? Swiss journalists Serge Michel and Michel Beuret report in their book China Safari (p. 252):
...the dragon slayers and some NGOs have spread the rumor that most Chinese workers in Africa are actually prisoners. But in all our travels we have not met a single one and feel free to assert that this is anti-Chinese propaganda.
I encourage anyone with actual evidence on this issue to comment. But please provide specific evidence, rather than sightings of Chinese workers who looked like prisoners, or other unsubstantiated claims.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

China in Nigeria: Update on Mambilla (and Brazil!)

In May, I posted on China-in-Nigeria "Power Myths", including my debunking of the oft-circulated 'fact' that 'China' was building the Mambilla, or Mambila, hydropower plant for Nigeria.

Update: The Nigerian paper Business Day published a story on August 4, 2010 in which a top Nigerian government official "stated that the Brazilian government had indicated its interest to invest in the country’s power sector, especially the Mambilla Power Project."

This new development illustrates several things relevant to research on China-and-Africa:
  • Many announcements of 'interest' are made by recipient governments who get political capital from showing that they are busy arranging important deals.
  • Many of these announcements of interest will go nowhere.
  • Check and double-check before adding projects like Mambilla to any list of Chinese deals!
Will Brazil actually finance Mambilla? I wouldn't hold my breath. For at least one reason why, see Peter Bosshard's comments on my May posting.

A hat tip to the Center for Chinese Studies in Stellenbosch.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Chinese and US-funded Malaria Centers: Contrast and Competition

I've just read in about a US initiative to finance ten malaria centers in endemic regions around the world. The International Centers for Malaria Research initiative, to cost $US 106 million, is a collaborative effort to strengthen research and training capacity around the world. The US-based National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) is providing the funding. This sounds a bit like the initiative announced by the Chinese government in November 2006, to set up ten malaria centers in Africa as part of the FOCAC pledges. Although I reported on this pledge in my book, The Dragon's Gift, I haven't looked into these centers in any detail (my book focuses more on the productive sectors of agriculture and manufacturing, as well as mining and infrastructure).

Tracing the planning and implementation of these two initiatives would make a great comparative research topic for a master's or Ph.D. thesis!  Is anyone working on this?