|China has fast become Africa's largest trading partner, with varied investments|
Or is such talk the product of fear and envy? Is it a sign of Western anxieties, that China is fast becoming the new power in Africa, building more equal relationships, and undermining Western influence on the continent?
China is certainly a real force in Africa. Just look at the clutch of presidents and the officials from many more parts of Africa who have made the long trek to Beijing this week for the China- Africa Co-operation Forum.
The visitors certainly have incentives to be here. They are being showered with attention, feted at banquets and tantalised with the prospect of preferential loan deals.
But China is extremely sensitive to the charge it's a neo-colonialist power and is trying hard to refute it.
Ahead of the forum the People's Daily newspaper, the Communist Party's main mouthpiece, warned that "a trickle of critics ... have struck a chord of dissonance, warning of the 'new colonialism' looming on the continent in a veiled swipe at Beijing's efforts to forge closer ties with Africa".
The opinion piece, from the official Xinhua news agency which echoes official opinion, said the charge was "biased and ill-grounded", the relationship is based on "equality and mutual benefit... fact is more convincing than rhetoric".
" Africa's exports of crude oil, minerals, steel and agricultural products have played an active role in lifting the Chinese people's livelihood. Meanwhile, the continent also serves as an indispensable market with great potential for Chinese products," it explained.
" China also provides Africa with much-needed products and technologies, and a vast market for its commodities," said Xinhua. "What's more, Beijing focused on helping build the continent's productive capacity by improving its infrastructure and boosting the manufacturing sector, rather than involving the so-called "resource-grabbing practice".