Author: Akin Iwilade, Akin Iwilade.
China is Africa's largest new investor, and the value of its two-way trade - at almost $200 billion in 2012 - is second only to that of the United States (US). It now has a strong and growing influence in core extractive industries from Angola to Zambia, and continues to make inroads in many other states. As Chinese investment grows, however, so does concern about what implications this may have for Africa's political processes and for global strategic alignments. As Richard Joseph notes: "China's growing presence has been complicating prospects for further democratisation in Africa," because it often ignores governance and human rights problems and makes investments that strengthen autocratic regimes. There is also concern among those who situate China's rise within the context of a 'new scramble for Africa' that is perceived as undermining its independence in ways even more sinister than what occurred in the past. These concerns are valid if one considers evidence from countries like Sudan and Angola, where China is perceived to have protected authoritarian regimes and has, in the case of Sudan, been implicated in the provision of arms to governments that commit human rights abuses in protracted conflicts.