China and Africa: Model of South-South Cooperation?
China Quarterly of International Strategic Studies. 2018;4(2):259-279 DOI 10.1142/S2377740018500124
Journal Title: China Quarterly of International Strategic Studies
ISSN: 2377-7400 (Print); 2377-7419 (Online)
Publisher: World Century Publishing Corporation
Society/Institution: Shanghai Institutes for International Studies
LCC Subject Category: Political science: International relations
Country of publisher: Singapore
Language of fulltext: English
Full-text formats available: PDF
Richard Asante (Institute of African Studies, University of Ghana, P.O. Box LG 73 Legon, Acrra, Ghana)
Abstract | Full Text
Chinese officials often claim that their country’s massive involvement in Africa is an example of “South-South cooperation” with tremendous potential to unlock Africa’s development prospects. They maintain that China’s economic involvement in the continent is less exploitative and more relevant to local needs than the North’s. Starting from a relatively small amount of investment in the early 1990s, China has become Africa’s biggest economic partner. Yet, as the United Nations Conference on Trade and Investment (UNCTAD) and other studies have shown, Chinese trade and investment in Africa are reproducing African countries as exporters of raw materials and importers of manufactured goods. This paper deconstructs the uncritical view of China’s development cooperation with Africa as “South-South” cooperation, highlighting its potential tensions, incongruities, downsides, and dilemmas. It demonstrates both good and bad news. Recent data show that despite the slowdown of the Chinese economy and slump in prices of certain raw materials, the total value of China-Africa trade is on the rise, with Africa’s exports to China growing rapidly, indicating a narrowing gap between imports and exports in the bilateral trade. However, whether this phenomenon is sustainable remains in doubt. Dynamics of the boom and bust cycles of commodity markets, limited diversification, domestic institutional constraints, limited tariff exemptions and rising debt on African countries can all compromise the recent progress in China-Africa trade and exacerbate their asymmetrical relationship, reproducing the trade pattern between the West and African countries.