Futuribles Journal n° 350

Continental Drift: Asia and Africa

"Chinafrica" (French writers long ago coined the parallel term "Françafrique") is a term found increasingly in press articles or book titles and has even gained general currency as the title of a website (Chinafrica.com) devoted to Chinese people living on the African continent (or wishing to settle there). Beyond China itself, all the developed countries of Asia have been strengthening their foothold in - and cooperation with - Africa for several years, encroaching increasingly on what was a Western (if not, indeed, European or French) preserve. In return, Africa has found new developmental resources in Asia and, even if its cooperation with that continent doubtless generates its own share of disillusionment and new dependencies, the stronger Asian presence in Africa offers Africans an opportunity, for the first time, to choose their partners.
What is the reality of this Afro-Asian cooperation? How far back does it go, what is it based on, and what are the prospects for its development? After a brief historical survey showing that the countries of Asia are not newcomers on the African scene, Jean-Raphaël Chaponnière outlines the nature of the relations - especially economic and trading relations - that unite the two continents and which are not confined to China and India. He also demonstrates how the Asian countries go about their "policy of influence" in Africa. Lastly, he outlines the main issues and prospects for this cooperation (access to natural resources for Asia and economic development for Africa), taking account of both the changed context brought about by the financial crisis of 2008 and the rivalries between the Asian countries (China and India in particular).

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