Knitting the Pieces of China’s Emerging Strategy in Africa

Knitting the Pieces of China’s Emerging Strategy in Africa

Podcast with Rachel Bernstein, Yunnan Chen, Daria Impiombato, Mareike Ohlberg, Mandira Bagwandeen, Roukaya Kasenally, and Nadège Rolland
October 10, 2023

This episode of Asia Insight highlights the main findings of NBR’s research project Into Africa: China’s Emerging Strategy. The podcast participants explore the strategic drivers behind China’s increased engagement with African countries, examine the significance of its investments in African critical infrastructure, and detail the extent of its influence networks on the continent.

The podcast is hosted by Rachel Bernstein, formerly assistant director for the Political and Security Affairs team at NBR.

Yunnan Chen is a London-based researcher in the Development and Public Finance program at ODI, where her work centers on the changing global development finance architecture and China’s global footprint.

Daria Impiombato is a research analyst specializing in Chinese technology and human rights at the Australian Strategic Policy Institute’s International Cyber Policy Center.

Mareike Ohlberg is a Berlin-based Senior Fellow in the Indo-Pacific Program at the German Marshall Fund, specializing in China’s global influence networks and tactics.

Mandira Bagwandeen is a Senior Research Fellow at the Nelson Mandela School of Public Governance at the University of Cape Town, where she focuses on Africa’s regional integration and industrialization and China-Africa relations.

Roukaya Kasenally is a democracy scholar and Associate Professor at the University of Mauritius. She is also the current chair of the Electoral Institute for Sustainable Democracy in Africa, a board member of West African Democracy Radio, and a member of the International Advisory Board of the Electoral Integrity Project.

Nadège Rolland is Distinguished Fellow, China Studies, at NBR.


[1:00] Overviewing the project and how China’s strategy for the African continent has evolved.

[10:43] Observing the changing realities of China’s infrastructure development in Africa and tracing the presence and impact of Belt and Road Initiative in African countries.

[16:01] How will China’s investment in Africa’s critical infrastructure play a transformative role in supporting Africa’s industrial strategies?

[23:15] What is the CCP’s United Front Work’s presence in Africa, and what are its broader objectives?

[24:40] Where is China deepening security ties with African countries?

[26:07] How might Africa be an “exterior line” that China can use to disturb or divert the attention of the United States and contain the Indo-Pacific Strategy?

[30:08] How might the ideological contest centered on values become an important aspect of U.S.-China competition as it relates to the African continent.

[33:45] Who are the main actors and targets in Beijing’s influence operations on the African continent?

[42:34] How can African countries leverage their increasing presence on the global stage to their own advantage?

[44:20] How can Western countries be proactive rather than reactive with respect to China’s engagement with African countries?

[48:00] What still needs to be studied regarding China’s relations with Africa and its influence and impact?

About Asia Insight

The NBR podcast series Asia Insight features interviews with top Asia experts about key issues affecting the Indo-Pacific region, with a focus on implications for U.S. policy and businesses. Subscribe to Asia Insight on Podbean and Apple Podcasts and let us know what you think of the podcast on Twitter.

Media Contact: [email protected] or (202) 347-9767.

Asia Insight theme music is by Laura Schwartz of Bellwether Bayou.

This podcast was edited by Sandra Ward at NBR.