USIP supports a cohort of early career scholars from across Africa as they research how China’s economic engagement in Africa impacts peace and security. In a field often dominated by outside expertise, this project builds the capacity of local researchers in a manner that prioritizes academic independence and rigor. The cohort is guided by a research advisory committee of senior experts on Africa-China relations, and the final research outputs will serve policymakers both in Africa and in the broader international community.

Much of the research that has been conducted on the impact of China’s economic engagement with Africa has focused on their economic exchanges and security engagements in isolation of one another. But few have sought to understand the interconnections between these themes. These interconnections matter, as some Chinese firms are responsible for environmental degradation, population displacement, corruption and illegal extraction activities — all of which are factors that can drive conflict. 

The Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam, under construction on the Blue Nile in the Benishangul-Gumuz region of Ethiopia, June 24, 2018.  (Laura Boushnak/The New York Times)

Meanwhile, Chinese actors often claim that their economic engagements are a driver of developmental peace, claiming that they are pillars of human security on the continent. In a politicized context with competing narratives, evidence-based research is vital to understand what is working and what is not for human security in the region.

African scholars are best suited to shed light on these dynamics, as their perspective is rooted in their own political systems, economies and societies. And yet, much of the analysis on Africa-China engagement to date has been conducted by scholars from outside of the continent. This program addresses that shortfall by centering the analysis and research of African early career scholars from across the continent.

About the Project

This year, a total of 17 researchers from a mixture of Anglophone and Francophone countries in Africa are conducting original, fieldwork-based research on how to address human security issues that may be arising from Chinese economic engagements.

The researchers are analyzing topics such as infrastructure construction, resource extraction, wildlife trading, technology, and arms trading in the following countries: Botswana, Cameroon, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, Uganda and Zambia.

Their academic independence and rigor are ensured by the research advisory committee, who guide and support the researchers’ work and dissemination. The four members of this research advisory committee also serve as advisors on research design, facilitate networking with other experts in their fields and co-organize periodic virtual training workshops.

Latest Publications

Xi and Putin Strengthen Strategic Ties, Spurn U.S. Leadership

Xi and Putin Strengthen Strategic Ties, Spurn U.S. Leadership

Thursday, May 23, 2024

Russian President Vladimir Putin visited China last week for the second time in just over six months. Putin and Chinese leader Xi Jinping have met over 40 times and the two leaders have developed a close personal bond as their countries’ strategic partnership has deepened. Western sanctions against Russia for its illegal invasion of Ukraine have led Moscow to rely on Beijing for both an economic lifeline and moral and materiel aid. Both leaders share a broad worldview that opposes what they perceive as U.S. hegemony over the international order and want to lead an emerging multipolar international system.

Type: Question and Answer

Global Policy

Putin Renews His Signal on Ukraine: Readiness for a Long War

Putin Renews His Signal on Ukraine: Readiness for a Long War

Thursday, May 23, 2024

Several recent actions by the Kremlin reinforce its signals that Russian President Vladimir Putin is committed to sustaining his grinding war of attrition against Ukraine for years to come if necessary. Putin likely believes that Russia can outlast the West’s support for Ukraine, thereby achieving his aims of fully occupying the territory his country illegally annexed in 2022 (especially the Donetsk and Luhansk regions) and destroying Ukrainian sovereignty. Indeed, Putin may well see that successful annexation as vital to his foremost goal: retaining power in Russia.

Type: Analysis

Global Policy

Explainer: What Caused the Recent Unrest in New Caledonia?

Explainer: What Caused the Recent Unrest in New Caledonia?

Thursday, May 23, 2024

Violence engulfed New Caledonia last week as the French National Assembly passed a constitutional amendment that will undermine the political representation of the Pacific territory’s Indigenous Kanak people. During days of unrest unprecedented since the 1980s, security forces and protesters clashed across the archipelago, leaving six dead and hundreds injured. Buildings and vehicles were set on fire in the capital, Nouméa, while streets were barricaded throughout the territory, flights were grounded and New Caledonia was placed under a state of emergency.

Type: Question and Answer

Democracy & GovernanceFragility & Resilience

Stress Test: the April Earthquake and Taiwan’s Resilience

Stress Test: the April Earthquake and Taiwan’s Resilience

Wednesday, May 22, 2024

On April 3, Taiwan experienced its most powerful earthquake since 1999. The earthquake struck the east coast county of Hualian and was felt across the entire island, including the capital Taipei City. At least 18 people were reported dead and more than 1,100 people were injured. Taiwan’s high level of earthquake preparedness stems from its familiarity with seismic activity and most importantly, lessons learned from several catastrophic earthquakes over the past two decades.

Type: Question and Answer

Global Policy

Kenya, a Key U.S. Partner, Needs Help to Foster Peace in Africa and Beyond

Kenya, a Key U.S. Partner, Needs Help to Foster Peace in Africa and Beyond

Wednesday, May 22, 2024

This week’s state visit to the United States by Kenya’s president — the first by an African head of state in over 15 years — is meant ceremonially to celebrate 60 years of formal U.S.-Kenyan relations. But Kenya’s current importance for America lies in its role as a valued partner, especially on the continent with the world’s fastest-growing population. President William Ruto can underscore both imperatives and opportunities for U.S. roles across the continent that will shape security and prosperity for next generations of Americans and Africans. Urgent issues include averting catastrophic famine in East Africa and activating economic investment to support stability and democratization.

Type: Analysis

Global Policy

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