Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Attending: A discussion on China's future role in Africa

On Wednesday, I dropped by GWU to check out A Discussion on China's Future Role in Africa, where Lula Chen of the Sino-African Institute of Sister Cities International talked about trilateral partnerships between U.S., African, and Chinese cities.

That is not a typo: trilateral partnerships!

I do not know whether trilateral Africa-U.S.-Chinese cooperation is a holy grail or a cosmic evil (there are a not insubstantial amount of people who hate the very idea of that collaboration), but I do know that it is rare. And by rare, I mean I had never heard of it until that point. So obviously, I was quite curious about the topic.

Chen started out by giving a background on Sister Cities International, a post-World War II American program designed to foster citizen diplomacy (ever notice that a lot of U.S. sister cities are in Germany and Japan? I did not until I went to this talk). Then she explained how there were quite a few African cities that wanted more collaboration with the Chinese, and that Sister Cities worked to facilitate that. Also, American cities wanted to attract Chinese investment and used the program as a bridge (hopefully) for future projects.

How did a project work? First, an American city had to initiate it, such as Denver. They would reach out to their Chinese counterparts in Kunming and decide on which sectors they would engage. They would then meet with their African sister-city counterparts in Nairobi and discuss whether there were any possibilities for collaboration within their sectors. Since all three cities are high-altitude cities that deal with water conservation issues, they decided to hold a water-expert exchange as well as renovate a school, fixing up the sanitation system. There are other partnerships between Zomba, Urbana, and Guangzhou; and Osogbo, Asheville/Raleigh, and Xiangyang. All the projects were small in scale and emphasized the specialties of their respective cities (such as composting in Urbana).

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

The Westgate Attack and China

Join your hosts Winslow Robertson and Dr. Nkemjika Kalu  as they look at what the tragic September 21 Westgate attack in Nairobi meant for Chinese-Kenyan relations. Helping them is Mr. Bob Wekesa, a Kenyan PhD candidate (who just defended his proposal) at Communication University of China and visiting researcher at the University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa. An expert on domestic China-Africa media, we asked him to give his thoughts on how the attack was reported in China versus Kenya and what the affect was, if any, on the broader relationship.

PS The podcast gods did not allow a solid internet connection, so please excuse the poor quality of the recording!



China media: Kenya siege by BBC News China