China’s Neo-Imperialism in Africa: Perception or Reality?

The imperial powers carving up China
China the Victim: The imperial powers carving up China.

Tom Harper
University of Surrey

Where once China sought communist revolution, it now seeks global economic expansion. As a result, the African continent has been one of the major areas of Chinese foreign economic investment. Numerous studies of China’s Africa policy have appeared in recent years, a number of which accuse China of exploiting resource rich African states or behaving like an imperial power in the continent, most notably Peter Hitchens’s assertion that China is building a ‘slave empire’ in Africa [1].

These views on Chinese policy also reflect the changes in the perceptions of China in the Western mind. The crude stereotypes of the Yellow Peril that dominated Western culture in the late 19th and early 20th centuries have given way to a fear that China will follow in the West’s imperial footsteps. In other words, the legacy of imperialism underpins today’s perceptions of China’s foreign policy as well as Chinese identity.

Chinese engagement in Africa illuminates the influence of the imperial experience. The initial form of Chinese policy in Africa came as ideological and military assistance to the various anti-colonial movements of the 1950s in their struggles against the once dominant European empires that had been ravaged by the Second World War. During this period of decolonisation, Beijing formed strong ties with a number of African nations that would become increasingly important to Chinese economic goals once the Cold War subsided.   Should these goals be seen as neo-imperialism? Continue reading “China’s Neo-Imperialism in Africa: Perception or Reality?”

Asterix the Gaul – Colonial Freedom Fighter or Neo-Imperialist?

Richard Toye

Asterixcover-asterix_the_gaulWhat might a historian of modern empire uncover within the long-running cartoon book series, Asterix the Gaul? Orientalism, French cultural anxiety about American neo-imperialism, and fears of cultural corruption in the face of the forces of global commercialism, of course.

The new Asterix volume, Asterix and the Picts, is not only the first in the series to be drawn/written without the involvement of either of the original creators, Rene Goscinny and Albert Uderzo; it has also led reviewers to wonder whether it can be seen as commentary on Scottish nationalism. Continue reading “Asterix the Gaul – Colonial Freedom Fighter or Neo-Imperialist?”