USC Annenberg dean Ernest J. Wilson III joined a panel of international authors and diplomatic experts at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington, D.C., on Dec. 7 to discuss China’s expanding economic role on the African continent.
In his remarks, Wilson said China’s rising status continues to be a “vexing concern” for developed nations unable to place the country’s external behavior into an appropriate context but is seen in a different light in emerging countries – many of which are in Africa.
“Africa can be seen as a kind of laboratory for China’s global ambitions,” said Wilson, who posited that China’s behavior in the region could provide crucial signals for diplomats hoping to better understand the motives and future aspirations of the People’s Republic.
“While Western democracies and their publics have exhibited a rather cautious deepening of ties, much of the developing world has been eager to emulate a Chinese-style [model] of political control with rapid economic development,” he said.
Wilson added, “For the China-Africa debate, this focus on long-term behavior should remain at the center of all policy considerations.”