Forum: Who’s in Charge Here?

China’s Base in Djibouti: Who’s Got the Power?

by Olivia Shen

BIG THINGS ARE happening in the tiny African nation of Djibouti. A poor country roughly the size of Belgium, Djibouti sits on the Gulf of Aden — a critical corridor for international shipping and security operations in an important but unstable neighbourhood. With few other natural assets besides its location, and twenty-three per cent of its population living in extreme poverty, Djibouti has turned to renting land to foreign armies of various flags to generate income. It hosts no less than eight foreign military forces — France, Italy, Japan, Germany, Spain, Saudi Arabia, the United States, and China.

Chinese Engagement in Africa: Fragmented Power and Ghanaian Gold

by Nicholas Loubere

CHINA’S EXPANDING presence in Africa is a topic of great interest — and often consternation — in African and non-African countries alike. Western news outlets in particular have spent considerable energy reporting on China’s increasing influence and power on the African continent, with commentators suggesting that China is playing a strategic game to displace Western hegemony.1 Chinese President Xi Jinping’s flagship Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) has become more concrete and expanded rapidly in recent years — now including projects in 71 countries and investments totalling more than US$210 billion.2 At the same time, reporting on China in Africa has increasingly taken a more urgent tone, replete with dire warnings of debt-trap development and new colonialism with Chinese characteristics.3 The dominant narrative in foreign media depicts China’s presence in Africa (and, by implication, elsewhere) as ominous — a vision that sociologist Ching Kwan Lee has termed ‘the spectre of global China’.4