The Chinese-African Union

20 March 2012

Foreign Policy - March 19, 2012

When the new African Union (AU) headquarters was unveiled in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, earlier this year, the $200 million structure -- now the capital city's tallest building -- caused a splash. But it wasn't just the mammoth building's impressive spec sheet that drew comment, it was also the project's bankroller: China.

The Chinese government has been leading a construction boom across Africa,  setting up huge dams and infrastructure projects, soccer stadiums, and even the world's third largest mosque in Algeria. And the lavish new AU headquarters was paid for -- in its entirety -- by the Chinese government.

The towering edifice houses three conference centers, its own helipad, and enough office space to accomodate 700 workers. The 20-story high complex, designed by the Architectural Design and Research Institute of Tongji University, also features an impressive entrance. "Leaping fountains grace a plaza at the front of the building next to a golden statue of late Ghanaian leader Kwame Nkrumah and the first-laid stone of an African Union memorial for Human Rights," World Architecture News gushed

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