In Pursuit of Development

Eric Olander on China-Africa relations

Episode Summary

Dan Banik speaks with Eric Olander on China’s global image, the politics of a Chinese Covid vaccine, and the benefits and challenges associated with the ambitious Standard Gauge Railway project in Kenya.

Episode Notes

This show has been regularly discussing Beijing’s support for sustainable development initiatives, its provision of aid, technical expertise and finance to developing counties under the South-South Cooperation umbrella, and the numerous infrastructure projects that China is undertaking in Europe, Africa, Latin America and Asia as part of the Belt and Road Initiative.

A common goal in several of the episodes in this season of the podcast has been to nuance the understanding of China’s recent activities, better understand its motives and reflect on its future strategies and actions. Much of the recent focus in Western media reports on China has focused on the damage that Covid has done to Beijing’s reputation abroad. There have also been growing concerns on how Beijing will react to certain countries defaulting on the huge loans that it has provided for infrastructure construction. But not everyone shares such concerns. And indeed there are numerous voices that have highlighted Beijing’s support for multilateral institutions and its ability to finance and undertake major development projects that the West has long neglected. 

Guest: Eric Olander is the co-founder of the China Africa project, an independent multimedia organization that explores China’s engagement with Africa. He is a journalist with over three decades of experience reporting, producing and managing newsrooms for some of the world’s leading media organizations including CNN, and the BBC World Service. Eric speaks fluent Mandarin Chinese and has a Master’s degree in International Public Affairs with a focus on Chinese foreign policy from the University of Hong Kong. He also hosts a very popular weekly China in Africa podcast.