Amid the sudden concern by Western policy makers and NGO campaign groups over Chinese economic penetration of Africa, this book provides a welcome vehicle for contextualizing the Chinese interest in the continent. Indeed, contextualization is Ian Taylor's major concern. Although there is a brief final chapter, ‘Conclusion and the future’, it does not make very bold about the future at all, and it is clear that the bulk of the book was completed ten years ago. There is only one citation of a source from 2000, and none from more recent times. The book is properly a history of China's involvement in Africa and Taylor is concerned to let his readers know that this involvement is not something new.

For the time being, it is the most complete work of its sort; it is a quarter of a century since E. Ted Gladue's earlier full-length effort. Having said that, this...

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