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Wednesday, December 2, 2015 - 19:30

Goods instead of Weapons: Investment as a Tool of Chinese Foreign Policy

Frank Sieren, Handelsblatt Columnist and Best-selling Author


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Dongcheng District, 21 Nei Wu Bu Jie

卢 森 堡 大 使 住 宅 东 城 区 内 务 部 街 21 号

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Dongcheng Qu 21 Nei Wu Bu Jie

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China is the foreign power vastly present on the African continent today. It was the first to recognize the opportunity on the continent, and for close to thirty years China has been investing with breath-taking speed in local infrastructure. Today many African economies are booming and China's contribution to economic growth and development in Africa has been steadily increasing.

Not only in Africa. In Latin America also the Chinese strategy of “goods instead of weapons” has been working extremely well. And now China hopes to try the same thing on the Asian continent, through initiatives like the Silk Road fund amongst others. But in a country where politics often drives economics, are these purely ‘economic’ investments or are there political strings attached?

Frank Sieren, bestselling author, documentary film maker and Asia specialist, is senior Asia columnist for Handelsblatt, Germany's leading business daily. He has been living in China since 1994. The London Times calls him one of the “decisive China authorities”. Sieren, who studied political science with a focus on economics in Berlin, is one of the few German journalists who has reported on China's rise first hand as he accompanies this remarkable process from his unique Beijing vantage point.

With his bestseller The China Code – How the Booming Middle Kingdom is Changing Germany, Sieren kicked off a literary trend looking not only at how China itself is changing, but how China is changing the world. His newest book The Africa Boom – the Big Surprise of the 21st Century deals with Africa's economic development. It was published in March 2015 in the Hanser publishing house. Frank Sieren wrote it together with his brother Andreas who lives in South Africa for already 15 years.

Sieren's 45-minute documentary film China's Grip on Africa – The Fight for Influence, Power, Natural Resources and Markets has been broadcast in English language around the world. His 45-minute film on China and Iran Beijing Opera on a Persian Carpet aired in the fall of 2008 on ZDF and was screened at the South-by-Southwest Film Festival in Austin, Texas. This was followed by China's Young Elite in the Porsche Lane – Driving Fast on Germany's Autobahn in autumn 2009 and Inside Asian Sweatshops – The Struggle to Enforce Workers’ Rights in winter 2010. In 2009 Sieren hosted the Beijing produced international talk show, Asiatalk, in German and English.