I just finished reading China Safari, which I must say was a thoroughly enjoyable read. Partially because of my fondness for the "intrepid journalist" style of writing, a category which this book squarely falls into. But mostly for a nuanced "on the ground" look at a very complicated, and too often generalized, subject.
The strengths of the book are plenty. The biggest one though is that it doesn't take sides, except perhaps against the French (the authors are French), who they rightfully blame for years of activities that ran from wrongheaded to just plain wrong. They draw attention to the numerous crimes that the Chinese take part in, while at the same time bringing the story back to the numerous opportunities that China has brought to the continent - running from simple job creation and economic stabilization, to recasting the continent as an opportunity, after years of being considered a basketcase.
The real value though lies in the the numerous illustrative vignettes that give a sense of the activity not as an economic argument but as a serious of lived facts. Near the beginning of the book they describe how a Chinese woman bought an out of business biscuit maker in Nigeria that both Westerners and Nigerians had tried to run, and employed hundred of Nigerians in the process, after actually visiting the factory. Towards the end they described how the much touted "Special Economic Zone" in Zambia (I'm going to the Egyptian one in 2 weeks) is nothing more than a tax haven for a single Chinese company, including a story of how they were kicked off the grounds.
They make one overarching point though: that now that China has re-energized Africa as an economic force, Africa has less need of China. They make the rather simple prediction that China will lose its political clout in the region sooner rather than later, and argues that the country will most likely lose its economic clout with it as well. China is getting a lot out of this right now, but in the end, the China/Africa story is an Africa story more than a China one, and its a story that Africans have the most control over.
Whether that story is about a continent being plundered for its riches by a foreign power and a wealthy elite, or a story about a continent finding its economic footing due to a strong business relationship with a developing power, the book doesn't attempt to answer. It leaves that to the people involved.