Charm of the Dragon: exploring China’s relationship with Africa and its implications for resource security, soft power and development

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This paper explores the relationship between China and Africa within the context of China’s resource security endeavours. It focuses on Chinese investment and soft power in Africa, and how they connect with African development. Is China in Africa to build mutually-beneficial relationships or to extract resources? Connected to this, are China’s soft power initiatives contributing to African development, or are they merely incentives for African states to do business with China? By examining Chinese soft power, the motivations and actions of both Chinese and African players, the author concludes that Africa is benefiting from Chinese investment, though to what extent varies based on the country. Conversely, the author finds little evidence that China’s soft power initiatives are supporting country development. Finally, the Sudan and Zambia case studies illustrate how Africans are far from passive actors, as external and internal pressures are slowly changing how China does business in Africa.
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