While editing “China-Africa Partnership: The quest for a win – win relationship,” Mr. James Shikwati must have been alive to the Kiswahili saying “Kipya kinyemi ingawa kidonda” (A new thing is a source of joy even if it's a sore). The 227 page book captures voices from seven Chinese and fourteen African scholars. Both scholars discuss a wide range of issues that include trade and development; peace and security; cultural and people to people exchanges and a reflective discussion on relations between the two sides. The book is rich in variety and opinion that makes it both informative, controversial in some respects and a clear stimulant that will ignite debate on the pros and cons of Sino – Africa relations.
The book argues that China is different from Africa. Africans are largely a coalition of the mirror image of the West and the suppressed self. China on the other hand has a government that manages a population of over 1.3 billion people compared to Africa which has 54 governments together managing 1.2 billion people. African governments’ legitimacy borrows from the Western model of democracy while the Chinese govern through the communist party. China has the oldest tradition of statecraft with a unique combination of state and market, while its African counterpart has to continuously do battle with international institutions such as the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund to evolve its policies. China successfully evolved from donor driven initiatives to become a donor whilst Africa is still bogged down with dependency on foreign aid. Africa joins the China – Africa partnership from a fragmented and weak position.
China – Africa Partnership: The quest for a win – win relationship illustrates that a win-win relationship is indeed possible if only Africans engaged in a coordinated response to China. Therefore there is the urgent need to dig deeper and evolve more scientific guided discussions on China–Africa relations. As African Union and majority of African countries mark 50 years of independence from colonial rule; they should perhaps take time and also study the unfolding scenario in the horizons driven by a resurgent China. Hopefully China’s newness will not turn out to be a sore if many Africans opt for a well thought out engagement with future generations in mind.