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Commentaries by Robert I. Rotberg

Robert I. Rotberg

Founding Director of Program on Intrastate Conflict, Harvard Kennedy School

Robert I. Rotberg is Founding Director of Program on Intrastate Conflict, Harvard Kennedy School, and President Emeritus at the World Peace Foundation.
  • Aug 01 , 2017

    One of China’s largest and most powerful construction companies, with operations all over Africa, discharges local employees if they test positive for HIV. Chinese companies are not known to be paternal in their dealings with employees. Where there is discrimination in Africa by Chinese firms it is mostly social and implicit.

  • Jul 17 , 2017

    Beginning by educating Africans on Chinese culture through Confucius Institutes on the continent, China now provides thousands of scholarships per year to African seeking to study at Chinese universities. But this arrangement is more than an educational exchange; it is Chinese soft power at work.

  • May 23 , 2017

    Ugandan petty merchants believe not that Chinese are sharper traders than they are but that they are subsidized by the Chinese government, meaning unfair competition. Just as the Trump administration in the United States asserts that China dumps raw steel on world market, selling its own glut of steel below cost, so the vendors of Uganda and Zambia are confident that Chinese traders in their countries can only provide imported goods at lower cost because they are somehow subsidized with export rebates from the Chinese government.

  • Apr 27 , 2017

    China’s new satellite tracking and space telemetry station is situated deep in the Patagonian region of Argentina. Argentinians have complained about the facility and widely believe that secret monies may have passed to secure approval for the facility. China says that the purpose of the ground station in Argentina is solely to support deep space exploration and a lunar mission that China may mount later this year.

  • Jan 12 , 2017

    With São Tomé’s shift, only twenty-one members of the United Nations are still linked to Taiwan. China promises to build roads throughout the two islands and construct markets, shopping centers, and other commercial facilities.

  • Nov 10 , 2016

    The International Criminal Court faces an issue of legitimacy as the Nations of South Africa, Gambia, and Burundi announces their withdrawal from the institution. This move was endorsed by China, and came after allegations of the courts acting in Western interest. China should cut off its ties to Burundi and Gambia, minor players on the African and international chessboards of diplomacy, and chastise South Africa – not sanction their inexcusable errors. Additionally, the ICC is the only method of war crimes prosecution; so challenging it is potentially dangerous to the system of international law, the success of future cases, and the security of nations.

  • Oct 20 , 2016

    Zimbabwe’s Central Mashonaland province once produced abundant quantities of high-quality tobacco. Production then dropped heavily when Zimbabwean politicians took control of the farms and neglected the lands. But this may change, as Mugabe recently leased five large farms in the area to Chinese entrepreneurs. This development may increase tobacco production and help uplift the local economy.

  • Aug 24 , 2016

    China is South Sudan’s last best hope. Given the interminable bloodletting and brutal fratricide that engulfs Africa’s youngest nation, and given the inability of the African Union and United States to broker an effective peace, intervention and assistance by China may provide South Sudan with its only viable lifeline.

  • Aug 01 , 2016

    Without Chinese help, sub-Saharan Africa’s power drought, its daily blackouts, and its ability to attract foreign investment would suffer. Fortunately, China is providing an essential part of the answer in terms of actual construction of new facilities and the finance that will present Africa new supplies to power and upgrade infrastructure.

  • Apr 09 , 2016

    Effectively reducing the killing of African elephants and rhinoceroses depends more on curbing the foreign demand for tusks and horn than on localized national endeavors to combat poachers. China is cooperating with African nations, but more must be done to abate the cultural appetite for ivory.

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