We overlooked the Christian Science Monitor’s excellent series of articles from a couple weeks ago titled "Is China Good for Africa?", which you can read here. More than the typical hand-wringing stories about how China’s all-time high in trade with Africa (US$55 billion last year and counting) is propping up corrupt and evil regimes and unfair to locals (though there’s a fair share of that as well), the series also looks at the more mutually beneficial outcomes and China’s experimentation with internationalism and soft power through things like its own version of the Peace Corps. Definitely worth a read if you missed it the first time. A few excerpts:
[From China takes up civic work in Africa] Playing a far more active role in UN peacekeeping than ever before, 1,809 Chinese troops, police, military observers, and others are deployed worldwide. The majority – 1,273 – are here in Africa, building roads, setting up clinics, patrolling troubled villages – and generally trying to show that China wants to be considered part of the international community when it comes to doing the right thing by this continent.
The number of Chinese peacekeepers worldwide is much smaller than the number that Pakistan supplies the UN – currently 10,173 according to UN statistics – or India, which has sent 9,471 of its nationals to participate in most of the UN’s 15 current missions worldwide.
But, it’s more than South Africa (1,188 blue helmets) or Brazil (1,277) have in the field – and far more than the US, which, unlike 118 other countries, puts no boots on the ground. (The US does, however, provide the largest chunk of the funding for these missions – 26 percent of the total. China, in turn, provides 3 percent.)
[From Young Chinese idealists vie to join their ‘Peace Corps’ in Africa] "We are a new generation that benefited from China’s economic reform," adds Ms. Liu, who teaches secretarial skills to government officials at the Ethiopian Ministry of Federal Affairs. "We are a warmhearted generation, and we care about the world."