China's growing appetite for African resources over the last decade is well documented. Indeed, China's massive industrial machine relies on oil from Angola, Sudan, and Nigeria, and minerals from South Africa, Zambia, and Liberia. While China maintains that its trade relationship with Africa is benign, some commentators see China's investment as a resource grab. In 2006, South African president Thabo Mbeki was notably frank when he warned that Africa could fall into a "colonial relationship" with China, leaving Africa "condemned to underdevelopment".
High on the of priorities within the Chinese central government is feeding China's 1.3 billion people. But with only 7% of the world's arable land annually to pollution and desertification, this is no simple task. The global food crisis of 2007-08 and rising food consumption in China only compound the problem. China's food vulnerabilities make securing , and the loss of over a million hectares of arable assets abroad tempting.
Beginning in the early 1990s, China's interest in Africa increased considerably as China found an accessible source of oil and other raw materials with which to feed its rapidly growing economy. Between 1995 and 2005, China provided at least US$12.5 billion in aid to Africa, canceled billions of dollars in debt, and constructed new roads, schools, , stadiums and hospitals across the continent. In return, Africa now supplies a third of China's oil.