China and Africa

May Tan-Mullins

in Chinese Studies

ISBN: 9780199920082
Published online October 2016 | | DOI:
China and Africa

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Since the founding of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) in 1949, modern China-Africa relations have gone through fluctuating periods, influenced by exogenous and endogenous factors. In the late 1990s and early 2000s, the heightened intensity of Chinese diplomacy with African states was evidenced through increasing trade, investment, and aid between China and the various African states. Alongside the rise in trade came increased foreign direct investment where the Chinese engaged mostly in infrastructure construction such as hydropower, telecommunications, and transportation. However, this reinvigorated entry into Africa was greeted with skepticism by many analysts in the West who question if China is a real partner or the new colonizer of the continent. This deepening of economic relations through a massive amount of foreign aid, trade, and investment evokes the debate if China is the new imperialist of the African continent, as critics argue much of Chinese actions are very similar to the colonizers in the past. In seeking to secure strategic resources and adhering to the noninterference principle, the Chinese were accused of violating Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) guidelines and global good governance norms in their engagement with African states. Africa’s interest in China mainly stems from trade and investment opportunities, ways to bolster regime stability, and strategically significant partnerships. African entrepreneurs in small and medium enterprises have, in the past, benefited from the growth of informal and formal linkages with Chinese and Taiwanese business networks outside of government sponsorship. The tapering off of traditional Western sources of political influence, economic investment, and development assistance have seen Africa turning toward other rising powers, such as the Chinese, India, and Brazil, and allows African actors to choose between the different donors and negotiate for the best deals. However, scholars debate if these Africans actors are indeed empowered to negotiate China-Africa relations and if there is any African agency in molding China-Africa developmental relations. As more grounded data is being published, the results among the African states are mixed. Although the situation has improved since the early 2000s, obtaining accurate data is one of the major challenges in researching China-Africa relations. Information is difficult to secure in China, and Africa is a continent with fifty-four countries, many of them fragile or failed states with weak institutional frameworks and data collection agencies, which naturally entails that information is not readily available. This article has included some African countries’ sources but also suggests the imperfect solution of using the African Union as a collective site of information. In terms of scholarly works, there has been a huge increase in recent years in the number of works published on various aspects of China-Africa relations, and this article attempts the difficult task of being selective, and any exclusion is a result of the author’s own research boundaries, not a reflection of any excluded articles’ merits.

Article.  11851 words. 

Subjects: East Asian Studies ; Asian History ; East Asian Philosophy ; East Asian Religions

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