Author: Barry Sautman, Yan Hairong.
Scholars and the international media often allude to a putative “African view” of Africa–China links, constructed from anecdotal evidence. Using random sample and university-based surveys, we elaborate the first empirically based study of what Africans think of their relationships with China. We reach three conclusions. First, African views are not nearly as negative as Western media make out, but are variegated and complex. Second, the survey results are at variance with the dominant Western media representation that only African ruling elites are positive about these links. Third, we find that the dominant variation in African perspectives is by country, compared with variations such as age, education and gender. The differences among countries in attitudes towards China are primarily a function of the extent to which national politicians have elected to raise the “Chinese problem” and, secondarily, the extent of Western media influence in African states.