Europe has been the privileged economic and political partner of Africa, but more recently China has increased its
foothold in Africa through important financial investments and trade agreements. Against this backdrop, our empirical
research conducted in 2007-2008 in Kenya and South Africa as part of a pioneering international project investigates
the perceptions of public opinion, political leaders, civil society activists and media operators. While confirming their
continent’s traditional proximity to Europe, African citizens are increasingly interested in China and its impact on
Africa’s development. While African civil society leaders and media operators describe China as an opportunity for
Africa to break free from its historical dependence on European markets, other opinion leaders warn against too much
enthusiasm with the Asian giant. On the one hand, Europe is increasingly criticized for not having been able to dismiss
the traditionally ‘patronizing’ attitude towards Africa. On the other hand, China is expected to bring a breath of fresh air
into the African context, although there is still suspicion that the Chinese strategy might, in the long run, turn into a new
form of economic patronage.
research is part of the international project ‘External Perception of the EU’, sub-project ‘The Visibility
of the European Union as a Development Actor in South and East Africa, South East Asia and the Pacific’
(2006-ongoing), coordinated by the National Centre for Research on Europe (NCRE) at the University
of Canterbury, New Zealand.