China-Africa Relations: A Neo-Imperialism or a Neo-Colonialism? A Reflection*

In: African and Asian Studies
Tukumbi Lumumba-Kasongo Cornell University and Wells College Department of City and Regional Planning 106 West Sibley Hall, Ithaca, NY 14853 USA, Email:

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Based on the intensity and the volume of financial and economic dimensions as it pertains to the relationship between China and various African countries since the end of the 1990s, the debate on these relations has just begun within a global context. The discussion on the nature of South-South relations, especially between a newly emerging industrial country, located in Asia, and the African countries, which represent the least industrialized area of the world, has more recently brought the subject of the unequal balance of power between the two regions under intellectual scrutiny.

Several intellectual debates on China-Africa relations have been mostly reactive in the sense that many analyses have focused on Africa’s past relations with the Global North. The existing literature on these relations has, to a large extent, not sufficiently located the discourse within the existing dominant ideologies, namely neo-imperialism and neo-liberalism. It is also important to localize these relations within the World Trade Organization’s dogmas and practices, the United Nations Charter, and African Union Charter in order to assess whether or not they can be characterized as either neo-imperialist or neo-liberal. Furthermore, it is important to identify on which specific areas these economic relations have generally focused and in which specific African countries they have been dominant. How do the Chinese government and the Chinese Communist Party perceive and define them? How do the African Union and specific African countries perceive and define these relations? And what are the policy implications in China and in the African public sectors? The main objective of this paper is, using the data and figures from Chinese sectoral investments and export-import of China and specific African countries to make a critical evaluative analysis of these relations and determine if they are qualified to be called neo-imperialist or neo-liberal. The article is both an empirically-based analysis and a reflection.

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