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Institutionalizing the African Reach: Reviewing China’s and India’s Multilateral Drives

March 11, 2016

Research Fellow, IDSA, Dr Jagannath Panda's research article, titled ‘Institutionalizing the African Reach: Reviewing China's and India's Multilateral Drive’ was published in the Journal of Asian and African Studies (Sage).

Abstract

China and India have for quite some time been participants in African politics and have employed persuasive strategies to make their presence felt in that continent. The main objective of their current participation and presence in Africa is to exploit energy resources and establish greater political connections there. The Chinese strategy is to be generous with loans and financial aid; the Indian strategy has been to employ populist and democratic measures, highlighting its historical and cultural connections with Africa. Pursuing stronger bilateral relations with African countries has been the principal medium of their continental reach. But bilateral bonding has been taking a backseat recently in their approach vis-à-vis multilateral relations, for which institutional and organisational bonding is being used as the prime medium. South Africa is a conspicuous illustration of this approach. Both China and India share strong bilateral ties with South Africa, which is the frontier state for their outreach to Africa. Their engagements with that country through multilateral forums like the AU, BRICS, BASIC and IBSA exhibit how multilateralism is becoming for them a leading approach relative to bilateralism. Their objective, besides enriching and influencing their bilateral understanding with that country, is to achieve their global ambitions and objectives in tandem with the African continent on a whole. This paper examines the instrumental approach that the two countries employ towards Africa where multilateralism is becoming a prime channel of contact over bilateralism. To what extent this approach has advanced their strategic interests in Africa commercially and politically also needs analysis.

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