Sisonke Msimang on how Howard W French maps the road between Africa and China

French suggests China’s place in the world today, and the increasingly robust manner in which it is engaged in the coastal areas surrounding it, must be understood through a historical lens. While there are clearly economic motivations for China’s desire to control the seas, invest in ports and airports and mining in Africa, and buy ever-larger amounts of coal and titanium, there is also a cultural and historical drive. China’s actions today are not the consequence of new imperatives. Instead, French argues, with the recent revival of nationalism, and a sense that China must play a wider and more important role in the world, Beijing is (self-) fulfilling a historical mandate. –The Johannesburg Review of Books/

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