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February 2, 2009 in The China Beat


Copyright February 2, 2009 Kate Merkel-Hess. Used by permission.


We aren’t the only ones with advice in regards to China for President Obama of late. For instance, Rebecca MacKinnon recently recommended to the President that he make sure to communicate with regular Chinese folks, as well as government leaders.

Meanwhile, book recommendations to kick off the new year are cropping up elsewhere as well — Jeff Wasserstrom, for instance, listed some of his favorites atFar Eastern Economic Review.

Here are a few more responses to our question, “What Should Obama Be Reading About China?” If you haven’t been following this feature, check out the first andsecond installments.

Howard French is an assistant professor of journalism at Columbia University and formerly Shanghai (and Tokyo) bureau chief for The New York Times.

Africa’s World War, by Gerard Prunier

Poisoned Wells: The Dirty Politics of African Oil, by Nicholas Shaxson

Why two books that are nominally about Africa for a conversation about China? Because unheralded though it is, Africa will be the great economic and political frontier of the next quarter century, and China, which has understood this far better than the United States and Europe, is building an immense lead in terms of its relations with the continent.

The first book paints a compelling picture of how badly the U.S. has gotten Africa policy since the Clinton Administration, reaping death and destruction through reckless policies in Central Africa, and helping create the big openings China enjoys today.