Dearest Readers: I apologize sincerely for the rather embarrassing lack of posting in recent days (or has it been weeks, already?). I have several writing projects on my plate at the moment (not to mention the mammoth beast that is the PhD), all of which have served to hamper my desire to blog when I manage to steal away some ever-fleeting moments of spare time. That said, I have not abandoned you and will continue to post in this space when I can (hopefully more frequently going forward!).
Now, let's get back to business, shall we? It seems that among the golden rules governing the IR world is the ever-wise maxim, "don't blink or you'll miss it." Much has happened in the way of Sino-African relations since I last wrote. To that end, I've collected a not-so-brief list of stories which have surfaced during my absence, and which I deem especially worthy of note:
- The FT last week ran a special report on Kenya. Whilst many "special reports" of such a nature have previously been written, I found this one especially well crafted and comprehensive, covering issues ranging from the country's leadership crisis to its extreme (and extremely fickle) climate
- Always sharp, always informative, Elizabeth Dickinson asks whether China's Guinea deal is for real. Emerging evidence suggests that the deal may actually amount to nothing more than wishful thinking on the part of the Guineans, though given the shroud of secrecy under which the Chinese (and by and large Guineans) operate, the actual reality of the matter is anyone's best guess. I find it perfectly typical, though: Guinea is embroiled in turmoil and gross human rights violations; the international community is ready to impose sanctions; and China is soldering on with its oil and investment deals. Where have we seen this before?
- Unsurprisingly, an increasing body of experts are calling for heightened transparency in China's Africa investments. I wouldn't be surprised if Beijing will over time begin declassifying a select pool of documents surrounding its African activities - not because it will have suddenly decided to operate within the international regulatory framework, but for the very reason that by appeasing Western demands in this regard it will be able to continue doing as it pleases. Give a little, take a lot seems to be the name of the game.
- In the name of fairness, however, if one is to be critical of the Chinese for their African oil investments, one should seemingly be equally condemnatory of the Bush family....
- A sad twist of irony in our technologically advanced world: phones appear to be more widespread than food. Might we - in our constant pursuit of all things bigger, better and faster - be losing sight of the basic needs of the world's poor? Food for thought (no pun intended)
- An interesting glance into the DRC's 2009 budget (HT: Texas in Africa). As Texas in Africa aptly notes, the best thing about the budget is how easy it is to see where the money is being stolen. The whole thing reads quite like a satirical novella. Well, almost.
- The 2009 Forum on China Africa Cooperation is due to take place in Egypt on 8-9 November. I look forward to reading the newly revised China Africa strategy which, I'm quite certain, will read exactly like the old one
- A most harrowing account of human rights violations in North Korea from The Economist. While North Korea is generally discussed solely in terms of its nuclear ambitions and contentious behavior on the international stage, one often forgets of the country's population, which is suffering under the most atrocious and deplorable conditions
- On the near-eve of the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, Brahma Chellaney puts 1989 in global comparative perspective: Europe got freedom, Asia got rich. And, twenty years later, China's authoritarian capitalism stands to challenge the global spread of democratic values. How much happens in such a short period of history.