China and Africa: The Relationship Matures

Chris Alden is from China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations (CICIR), Beijing.
  • Share
  • Tweet
  • Email
  • Whatsapp
  • Linkedin
  • Print
  • September 2012

    The strum and drang that has accompanied China's arrival as a major economic and diplomatic actor in Africa has divided the continent into advocates, alarmists and analysts. 1 For the advocates, the integration of China into the African architecture is one to be promoted as an alternative to the tired policy pronouncements of an increasingly enervated West, not least because of the practical rationale that Beijing has the financial means and political will to invest in Africa's future. For the alarmists, the spectacle of Chinese hegemony threatens to topple the existing order in the continent, be it in the arena of norms or the restructuring of markets through migration, and is more disturbing than any passing constructive role that they may play in a particular country's development. Finally, for the analysts, the cold calculation of trade and finance data remains the principle fodder against which they seek to measure the impact of the global power transition on established interests in Africa. Untangling the nature of Chinese engagement with the continent and its meaning for Africa has, as a result, become as much an exercise defined by these competing perspectives as it is one that assesses its development prospects and the political impact of this relationship.