In many cases it was China’s longstanding solidarity with several liberation movements in Africa in the colonial period which was later upgraded to bilateral and state-level diplomatic relations in the postcolonial era. However, the twenty-first century has also brought about quantitative and potentially qualitative changes in Sino-African relations which are more complex than what the advocates of stronger Sino-African relations (Sino-optimists) and proponents of disengagement (Sino-pessimists) seem to suggest. The defining patterns of China’s influence in Africa are either not yet fully crystallized or they come in paradoxical pairs. The essay spells out the manifestations of these paradoxes and what can be done under the circumstances to improve the African condition. The divergent schools of thought about the possible impacts of China’s increased activities in Africa seem not to be totally unrelated to their underlying assumptions about the causes of Africa’s unsuccessful modernization. The essay also explores these intellectual issues by focusing on the contradictory dimensions of Afro-Chinese relations.