#SinoAfrica Relations Online Course

Africa – China Relations


Welcome to the free, online version of ‘Africa – China Relations’, an undergrad, introductory & interdisciplinary course taught at the University of Hong Kong.

At this stage, below you’ll find the course contents as they stand as of early 2016. In the future, the presentations (prezis) will be replaced by video lectures (narrated prezis), but I’m still in the process of finding both time and funding to do so.

Finally, I believe that the best way to improve/expand my knowledge about any subject is by sharing it as it is – this has always been the leading idea behind this blog & behind my scholarly work. There is a lot to improve (of course!) but as an introductory, free, online course, the assemblage of ideas, readings, videos, discussions & arguments in this collection are on the cutting edge of #SinoAfrica debates. In the future, I plan to add more advanced (and specific) courses but, first, let me take a selfie; and second, 摸着石头过河




Course Description

In recent years, China and Africa have renewed their relations at many different levels. From political engagement to increased trade and economic relations, and perhaps more importantly, to increased contact between ordinary Africans and Chinese. The figures of Chinese living in Africa, and Africans living in China, have increased to a point that has no parallel in the history between these two regions. What are the implications of contemporary Sino-African engagements? What does this mean for the future of these regions and the world? In order to provide answers to these questions, this course introduces the main debates around Sino-African engagements and analyses some of the associated sociocultural, political and economic processes. Instead of simply reviewing the main literature on Africa-China relations, this course takes you into a critical and interdisciplinary journey in which crucial aspects of these relations are analysed through various texts and documentaries. Through discussion and analysis, this course will challenge extant narratives about Africa-China relations and delve into the possibilities (i.e. opportunities and challenges) that this ‘renewed’ engagement entails.

Course Objectives

  • Consider the ways in which Sino-African relations have evolved throughout history and to explore the possibilities for the future.
  • Explain the complex and contested dynamics of Africa-China relations.
  • Critically analyse and challenge extant representations about Chinese presence in Africa and African presence in China.

Learning Outcomes

By the end of the course, students should be able to demonstrate:

  • an understanding of historical encounters, contemporary exchanges, and issues of representation around Africa-China relations;
  • general knowledge around the major debates, themes and concepts in Africa-China relations;
  • an ability to critically engage in discussions about the topic, and reflexively apply the knowledge generated in the course to future research.



Week 2: A new scramble for Africa?

(If you are unable to navigate the Prezi through this screen you can also view this Prezi on the website)

Primary reading

Large, D. ‘Beyond the Dragon in the Bush’.

Screening: The Battle for Africa


Week 3: Early encounters and pre-modern imaginations: did the Chinese discover Africa?

(If you are unable to navigate the Prezi through this screen you can also view this Prezi on the website)

Primary reading

Snow, P. ‘Chinese Columbus’

Wyatt, D. ‘Blacks of premodern China’ Chapter 1

Other sources

Smidt, W. ‘A Chinese in the Nubian and Abyssinian Kingdoms (8th Century)’

Wilensky. ‘The Magical Kunlun and ‘Devil Slaves’: Chinese perceptions of dark skinned people and Africa before 1500’

Keywords: #Kunlun #ZhengHe #ChengHo #Trade #DuHuan #Malindi #IbnBattuta #MingDinasty #VascoDaGama #NewSilkRoad #Coolies


Week 4: Race and racism: Anti-Sinicism in colonial Africa and the idea of race in modern China

(If you are unable to navigate the Prezi through this screen you can also view this Prezi on the website)

Primary reading

Sautman, B. ‘Anti-black racism in post-Mao China’

Harris, K. ‘Anti-Sinicism: Roots in pre-industrial colonial South Africa’

Other sources

Dikotter, F. ‘Group definition and the idea of ‘race’ in modern China (1793-1949)’

Keywords: #Race #Racism #Racialisation #Blackness #LiangQiChao #Confucianism #ChineseRestaurant #Nairobi #Xenophobia #Sinophobia

Week 5: Bandung from aid to trade: China and Africa – Cooperation – Non-alignment

(If you are unable to navigate the Prezi through this screen you can also view this Prezi on the website)

Primary reading

Alden, C & Alves, C. ‘History and Identity in the construction of China’s Africa policy’

Burguess, G. ‘Mao in Zanzibar: Nationalism, discipline, and the (de)construction of Afro-Asian solidarities’

Other sources

Ferme, M C & Schmitz, C M. ‘Writings on the wall: Chinese material traces in an African landscape’

Keywords: #SinoAfricanSolidarity #AfroAsianPeriod #AntiImperialism #MaoZedong #CulturalRevolution #TechnicalSupport #ForeignInvestment #NoStringsAttached #Industrialisation


Week 6: Screening: ‘The Chinese are coming’: The politics of the Sino-African encounter in Africa
Primary reading

Wang, F & Elliot, E. ‘China in Africa: presence, perceptions and prospects’

Hess, S & Aidoo, R. ‘Charting the roots of anti-Chinese populism in Africa: a comparison of Zambia and Ghana’

Other sources

Chan, S. ‘The Middle Kingdom and the Dark Continent: an essay on China, Africa and many fault lines’ in: Morality of China in Africa 3-43.

Keywords: #Representation #YellowPeril2.0 #ChineseThreat #NewScrambleForAfrica #NeoImperialism #ChinaModel

Week 7: A new path for Africa’s future?

(If you are unable to navigate the Prezi through this screen you can also view this Prezi on the website)

Primary reading

Sautman, B & Hairong Y. ‘African perspectives on China Africa links’

Brautigam, D. & Tang, X. ‘African Shenzhen: China’s special economic zones in Africa’

Other sources

Leman, P. ‘China-Africa relations, political conditions, and Ngugi wa Thiong’o’s Wizard of the Crow’

Keywords: #Representation #YellowPeril2.0 #ChineseThreat #NewScrambleForAfrica #NeoImperialism #ChinaModel

Week 8 – Mar 22: Soft power and Neo-colonialism: Is Africa China’s second continent?

(If you are unable to navigate the Prezi through this screen you can also view this Prezi on the website)

Primary reading

Banda, F. ‘China in the African mediascapes: a critical injection’

Marsh, V. ‘Mixed messages, partial pictures? Discourses under construction in CCTV’s Africa Live compared with BBC

Other sources

Alden, C. ‘Through African eyes: representations of China on the African continent’

Keywords: #NeoColonialism #SoftPower #ConfuciusInstitute #CulturalDiplomacy #TCM #CCTV #NTANEWS


Week 9: The African Dream: Chinese ‘migration’ to Africa
Primary reading

Ndjio, B. ‘Shanghai beauties and African desires: migration, trade and Chinese prostitution in Cameroon’

Park, Y. ‘Perceptions of Chinese in Southern Africa: Constructions of the ‘other’ and the role of memory’

Other sources

Haugen, H. ‘On the edge of the Chinese diaspora: the surge of baihuo business in an African city’

Keywords: #Coolies #Labour #CommercialMigration #SouthAfrica #SecondContinent #Trade #Migration


Week 10 – Apr 12: Africans in Chinese media: China’s ‘Chocolate Girl’ – 
(Prezi Coming soon)
Primary reading

Robeson, T, & Lin, Z. ‘Ethnic identity and racial contestation in cyberspace: deconstructing the Chineseness of Lou Jing’.

Other sources

Cheng, Y. ‘From Campus Racism to Cyber Racism: discourse of race and Chinese nationalism’

Keywords: #LouJing #ChocolateGirl #DingHui #Heiren #Heigui #Blackness #Ethnicity #Chineseness


Week 11: Africans on the move: looking for greener pastures – China as a ‘migrant’ destination? (Prezi Coming soon)
Primary reading

Castillo, R. ‘Homing Guangzhou: Emplacement, belonging, and precarity among Africans in China’

Haugen, H. ‘African Pentecostal migrants in China: marginalisation and alternative geographies of a mission theology’

Other sources

Lan, S. ‘State regulation of undocumented African migrants in China: a multi-scalar analysis’

Han, H. ‘Individual grassroots multilingualism in Africa Town in Guangzhou: The role of states in globalisation’


Week 12: The Future: the politics of ‘illegality’ and other complexities – 
(Prezi Coming soon)
Week 13: One Belt One Road: What’s in it for Africa? – 
(Prezi Coming soon)