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The paper attempts an evaluation of China-Africa cooperation in the 21st century. This engagement cannot be ignored for a variety of reasons. Firstly, it gives Africa leverage in its relations with the North. Secondly, China’s emergence onto the global stage compels African government and their counterparts in the South to reflect on and adopt initiatives that address the challenges of globalization. Thirdly, for African policy-makers, a more nuanced understanding regarding the varied impacts that China can have on their economies and on Africa’s development path is needed. For pessimists China represents a terrifying threat while for optimists it is a tantalizing opportunity. The key question is whether China’s engagements in Africa are purely extractive or have a developmental impact. The paper looks in some detail at these real and possible impacts. It concludes that there are complexity of interactions between Chinese and African trade, investment and aid.