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Title: China and its international responsibility in Africa
Author: Xu, Yanzhuo
ISNI:       0000 0004 5347 3346
Awarding Body: Durham University
Current Institution: Durham University
Date of Award: 2014
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China’s increasing involvement in Africa during this past decade is one of the most controversial and hotly debated issues in the region, maybe even worldwide. It appears to contradict not only the idea of an internationally marginalized Africa, but also the traditional North-South engagement pattern; specifically, humanitarian intervention and foreign aid mechanism. On the one hand, China has brought significant economic and political opportunities to the continent with large amounts of investment and infrastructure. While on the other hand, China’s interests in Africa - including international strategy for multipolarity, a boom in China-Africa trade, and a strategic focus on energy – have been challenged as a form of neo-colonialism and support for authoritarian governments at the expense of human rights, the environment and good governance. Comparing these two arguments, it shows that there is a lack of appropriate criteria with which to evaluate China’s impact on African countries. The existing literature has presented two faces of China in Africa: it has provided an alternative source and approach to conditional Western aid, but a generally asymmetrical relationship has made China-Africa links little different from previous Western-African relations. This thesis argues that the Western way is not the best criteria for evaluating China-Africa engagement, when considering the emerging power’s new role as a donor Instead, it attempts to establish a reasonable standard for a state being responsible in international society, and employs five standards on China-Africa involvement to analyse China’s responsibility in Africa, in terms of good governance, China’s African policy, policy implementation, feedback from host countries, and comments from international society. Since the good governance is considered to be an inner responsibility, the rest four criteria will be mainly discussed. To assess whether China is responsible to Africa is a difficult question. In order to clarify China’s role in Africa, this thesis has divided China-Africa involvement into two parts, the factors that shape China’s responsibility in Africa at the policy level and the factors that impact China in Africa (policy implementation). In general, three factors have shaped China’s responsibility in Africa at the policy level: China’s Africa policy motivation, Africa’s demands and international expectation. It has been concluded that China holds a different approach and political philosophy for helping Africa’s development, but it shows willingness to cooperate with the traditional players on the continent, and its own African policy is not always incompatible with Africa’s demands. Moreover, the factors at policy implementation level are diverse, including Chinese governmental branches, Chinese enterprises, and the host African countries’ environment. At this level, Chinese companies shoulder Beijing’s ‘going out’ strategy, using aid and infrastructure to expand overseas markets and acquire assets, especially energy assets, in Africa. Theoretically, this approach does not necessarily undermine development in Africa. However, in order to reach the central government’s goals, and constrained by the competition in the overseas market, Chinese companies have to invest in highly risky areas or provide generous loans and credit to outbid competitors, including overpayment for equity positions or underbidding contracts. Due to the profit-driven nature of enterprises, Chinese companies sometimes try to reduce costs during the implementation of projects by reducing quality, cutting labour costs, or sacrificing worker safety and lowering environmental protection. Their irresponsible behaviour deviates from the central government’s policy, but also badly damages the reputation of both Chinese companies and China as a whole. Although the host African countries and their markets were considered to be untapped and less competitive, compared to developed countries and well-established markets, Chinese companies still have difficulty in operating there. This thesis selected four case countries – Sudan (South Sudan), Nigeria, South Africa and Ethiopia, which represented typical features of China-Africa relations – to test China’s impact on the country and analyse the factors in Africa affecting China’s ability to shoulder responsibility. It proves the hypothesis that China’s responsibility in Africa is affected by both the Chinese and African environments. China’s positive or negative impacts on the host African countries were largely constrained by the political and economic situation within the host state.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available