The Political Economy of Sino-African Relations: Reconciling Chinese-Style Development with the Western Aid Paradigm
Citation: Tomer Zaidman, The Political Economy of Sino-African Relations: Reconciling Chinese-Style Development with the Western Aid Paradigm, Global Affairs Review, Vol. 2, No. 1, Spring/Summer 2021.
date: June 15th, 2021
Western analysts perceive aggressive Chinese foreign investment as a grave threat to sustainable development in the Global South. China’s more centralized and uncompromising strategies have the potential to lock recipient countries into a cycle of increasing unserviceable sovereign debt. On the other hand, they have often seen successes where the Washington Consensus had not. This paper seeks to explain why China’s monetary and financial systems are uniquely placed to offer the Global South – and Africa in particular – an alternative model for development. It also places reasonable doubt on Chinese investment as a monolithic expansionist project, emphasizing China’s constant need for new markets and Africa’s long-term ties to Asia and its export-oriented model. By examining the empirical realities of Chinese investment against dominant Western schools of thought, this article concludes that the two aid paradigms may be reconcilable, and that policy coherence between China and the West is possible and desirable. Also, as noted by the many scholars now reevaluating the issue with a focus on African agency, African governments will have to develop the bargaining power and policy ownership to guide the conversation in a regionally specific and Africa-centric direction.