Debating China’s New Role in Africa’s Political Economy

Lawrence Mhandara, Charity Manyeruke, Eve Nyemba


Since the end of the Cold War and the emergence of rapid globalisation, China’s economic role has gained remarkable prominence in a system once dominated by capital from developed countries. In this way, China’s contemporary visible presence in the international political economy has attracted significant attention in both academic and media discourse across the globe but more importantly in the developing geo-political terrains such as Africa. The discussion of China-Africa relationship at policy levels is therefore compelling against such a background. The common concern has been whether China’s Africa policy marks any significant change in Africa’s international political economy. Trade between the two partners has grown and China is accorded access to supplies of natural resources such as oil, copper and diamonds among other vital resources. The article seeks to examine the most pertinent question in relation to China-Africa economic relationship: to what extent is Chinese involvement in Africa any different from the hallmarks of neo-colonialism? The argument of the article is divided as follows. It begins with a dissection of the origins of the relations; it then explores the complex relationship through the lenses of the competing views on China’s policy on Africa; a position on whether China exudes the qualities of a neo-colonial poweris then taken. The article concludes with proffered recommendations.

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