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China and Africa: Myths and realities


Alexander Rustler

Economic Policy Research Institute Cape Town, ZA
About Alexander
Research Fellow
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China’s newfound economic and political ascendency has attracted considerable attention across governmental, media, and academic channels. This paper seeks to challenge the prevailing narrative of Sino-African relations in the wake of China’s rise, using a juxtaposition of Western and Chinese ideologies to evaluate three key debates related to China’s involvement in Africa. Its emerging global presence along with rapidly expanding political and economic influence has captured the world’s attention. The most prominent example of this preoccupation is how the West has responded to China’s elevated status in the developing world. Beijing’s pivot to Africa has generated a narrative supporting Western prejudices and concerns about shifting hegemony and power. The main casualty of this speculative fog has been the authentic and genuine representation of facts. Unsubstantiated rumours and political assumptions have been employed as a common currency among oftenuninformed policymakers to the detriment of objectivity. Section one of the paper addresses the hypothesis that China’s unprecedented economic rise has prompted Beijing to fuel its mushrooming economy through exploitation of Africa’s resources. Section two examines the hypothesis that China predatorily targets countries where political instability and weak law enforcement enable easy access to natural resources. Section three challenges the notion that China’s enhanced commercial presence in Africa is actually a strategic move to colonise territory. Each hypothesis is outlined according to the literature, empirically tested according to the facts, and contextually synthesised according to the data. Ultimately, the essay concludes that none of the three hypotheses withstand rigorous analysis and can therefore be collectively rejected.

How to Cite: Rustler, A., 2018. China and Africa: Myths and realities. The Public Sphere: Journal of Public Policy, 6(1), pp.117–140.
Published on 01 Jan 2018.
Peer Reviewed


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