With signs that China will emerge as the next global superpower becoming more and more apparent, a documentary about China’s economic foray into Africa, is undoubtedly timely.
It its opening minutes, When China Met Africa informs us that in November 2006, Beijing cemented its long-term relationship with Africa by hosting a summit of 48 African heads of state. Fast-forward three years later, and filmmaking brothers Nick and Marc Francis examine the current state of this relationship by following the lives of three people from different social classes in the country of Zambia: Mr Liu , a farmer who has just bought his fourth farm and sees his business booming, Mr Li , a road project manager, who is upgrading Zambia’s longest road and Mr Mutati, the country’s Trade Minister who is planning to go to China to secure millions of dollars of investment.
What is evident throughout the film is the inherent tendency of Chinese to jump at every opportunity that comes their way and try to get the best out of it, demonstrated for example in the story of Mr Liu who quit his office work in his country looking for a better future and in the Minister Mutati’s apposite description of the different method of approach that the Western and Chinese investors use.
However, while the film makes a strong case for China’s entrepreneurial spirit being a cardinal reason for forging a relationship with Africa, there are only glimpses of how this partnership has affected the lives of the locals.
Final verdict: An interesting but somewhat one-sided approach to a really complicated yet important subject.
(Words: Apostolos Kostoulas)
In cinemas October 7th. For more info visit: www.whenchinametafrica.com