Finding the Baoding Villages: Reviewing Chinese Conceptualisation of Sino–African Agricultural Cooperation

Philip HP Liu


Scholars usually examine African images of the Chinese to understand African responses to Chinese economic expansion, yet they rarely observe that a constructed image of Africa has been built up in China. That image is intrinsically racist and promotes the idea that Chinese investment can somehow “rescue” Africans from their “laziness.” This paper analyses the enduring legend of the Baoding villages, constructed to persuade the Chinese public that Chinese farmers could easily make their fortunes and win respect in Africa. A review of the history of Sino–African agricultural cooperation reveals that this fabricated narrative was convincing because it reinforced Chinese perceptions of African inferiority and reproduced existing ideologies of foreign aid and propaganda concerning policy effectiveness.

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