“To foreign policy aims? Although it must be argued

“To most people, foreign policy is a normal… remote, part of
the world of politics… consists in what one state does to or with, other
states, involving a mix of conflict and cooperation” (Hill, pg1, 1948). This
quote is revealing to us that despite the fact that there may be conflict
within a state’s foreign policy, cooperation, however, is also needed to some
extent. Whether it’s between state officials or ministers, cooperation is still
needed to enact foreign policy. In terms of the Chinese foreign policy towards
Africa, it is relatively stable and consistent, no hasty decisions are made and
there’s generally consultation and checks. Chinas foreign policy in Africa can
be boiled down to three main aims. The first being China wanting to increase
its volume of trade with Africa. The second being that China is seeking to
increase its investment in Africa in terms of agriculture. Thirdly, China is
looking to play a more pivotal role in Africa’s international political
economy. However, has China really achieved these foreign policy aims? Although
it must be argued that China’s investment policy in Africa is one that has
proved to be very successful over the last few years, despite all the
criticisms it has faced. Below we will critically assess the different drivers
and processes involved in the Chinese investment in Africa based on the three
level of analysis, which is individual, domestic and system.

 

Until the late 1980’s foreign policy relating to China was
focused on leaders. Some refer to this time as Maoist (1949-1976) and
post-Maoist (1976-1989) era in Chinese foreign policy bureaucracy (Wenbin et
al, p12, 2012). China has a bureaucratic political system, meaning they have an
open political system and information flows in relative transparency. The power
of foreign policy is thus concentrated on the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and
the standing committee of the politburo. During the Maoist period China was
very isolated, taking part in no trading with the west and overworking its
workforce. However, when Xiaoping came to power in 1976, he believed that China
needed a strong economy in order to be a more prominent world player. As a
result, he opened the free market enabling cities such as Shanghai to be as
capitalist as they want. This shift from Mao Zedong to Xiaoping’s regime in
1976 is very important because opening the free market is what allowed China to
flourish economically, and now becoming the second biggest economy in the
world. Thus, their financial backing gives Africa more of a reason to work with
China and its businesses. It’s possible to think that without this great
economic backbone China has, the relationship they have with Africa would not
have flourished as it has.

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Recently, however, the Chinese communist party as faced some
criticism over their mistreatment of African workers. Bad practice such as
exploiting African workers, as gone forth to grab headlines and thus as made
Chinas intentions with Africa very unclear. Although it cannot be denied that
the western Medias reflection of China’s investment in Africa is one that may
be deemed as bias and unfair. The media constantly shuns china’s policies and
rarely presents the positive impact China is having not just in Africa but the
world.

 

Throughout Xi Jinping’s youth, he attempted to join the
communist party but was rejected. Despite the numerous amount of failed
attempts he was finally accepted into the communist party in 1974 and began his
political career (Brown, p6, 2016). Xi Jinping showed exceptional personal
skill and political knowledge during his post as a deputy mayor in 1985, by
proposing several infrastructure improvements. In 2007 he was picked by the CCP
to lead the party in Shanghai, this was made on the account of his reputed
integrity in the wake of a scandal. Xi Jinping reputation as an honest and
efficient politician rose steadily and helped him gain the presidency in March
2013. His ideas of infrastructure in his earlier political career influenced
his policies in Africa. With the East Railway project for example, in a period
of 9 months, Kenya had 1,981 km of road built by China Railway Engineering (Eisenman
et al, p27, 2012). Xi Jinping reputation has an honest man tells
us that exploiting Africa and its resources are something that he would not
agree with because it is against his personal morals. Although it can be argued
that state officials and ministers constantly seek to benefit themselves
regardless of how immoral something may be. Being the president of China surely
comes with sacrifices, therefore if exploiting Africa is the only way for China
to grow as the global power, Xi Jinping is obliged to sacrifice his morals for
the benefit of his country.

 

On the other had some are more pessimistic about Chinese
investment in Africa, arguing that the Chinese relationship with Africa has
affected the social structure of Africans whilst bringing in Chinese businesses
and goods. Could this just be a new form of colonialism that’s been allowed to
penetrate in Africa? Although, Africa is not new to colonialism, after decades of
colonial rule to the West Africa was left amputated and set back in years of
modernisation. Those who have criticised Chinas investment policy speak about
trade disproportion that are creating obstacles in the nations involved,
although it’s giving advantage to China at the expense of African people. These
critics maintain that China sought to establish itself as a colonial power,
infrastructure programmes funded by Chinese businesses tend to be carried out
by Chinese workers instead of giving local African companies the opportunity to
grow experience and capital. These contracts overwhelmingly benefit Chinese
corporations and produce massive profits. Chinese products are now flooding the
African markets overwhelmingly local producers with large volumes of affordable
products that are very difficult to compete with. Moreover, in the industries
that do employ African workers, they also are not exempt from criticism, in
2011 Human Rights Watch released a contemptuous review of treatment of Zambian
workers in Chinese owned copper mines. Claiming unsafe work conditions,
exploitive hours and threats to those who pose complaints (Lam, p32, 2015).

 

China has however gone out of its way to deny all
accusations of colonial abuse. Wang Yi Chinese foreign minister insisted in a
2015 tour of Kenya that “China absolutely will not take the old path of western
colonists, and we absolutely will not sacrifice Africa’s ecological environment
and long-term interests” (Abdulai, p42, 2016). However, it can be argued
that Wang Yi is just protecting Chinese interests, therefore, he wouldn’t
express anything that could ruin china’s credibility and position in the
international realm. In an attempt to counter these criticisms numerous
infrastructure programmes funded by Chinese businesses have created roads,
schools, and railways in Africa. Chinese doctors also played a key role solving
the Ebola crisis in 2015. In spite of the criticisms of abusive behaviour, the
Chinese protected mines that had been declining under preceding investors which
extended facilities and rescued jobs. As a result of these benefits, William de
vilde sees the relationship differently stating that “there is mutual interest…
if there are good policies and institutions in place, African countries can use
the investment well to grow their economies” (Abdulai, p45, 2016). This goes to
show that even if China is exploiting Africa of its resources, the fact that
they are still doing some form of business together means that gradually Africa
will grow and improve as a direct consequence of the investment policy.

 

Over the last few years, business between the Chinese and
Africa has been thriving. In 2009 China surpassed the US as Africa’s largest
trading partner. Total trade between Africa and China grew from $6.3 billion
2009 to $166 billion in 2011 (Brautigan, p21, 2015). Chinas increasingly relied
on Africa for all its imports, in which China received 1/3 of oil imports out
of Africa. Whereas Africa constitutes about 4% of Chinese global trade,
however, china accounts for about 13% of Africa’s global trade (Brautigan, p22,
2015). The investment from China into Africa increased by 60% from 2009-2011.
This reveals that China and Africa trading together is not only increasing but
that China is highly dependent on Africa and its assets.

 

In addition, some argue that the rising domestic problems
China is facing is putting pressure on their foreign policy. John Parker a
globalisation editor at the economies argued that one child policy that failed
20 years ago has caused the population to slow down. As a result, Chinas
fertility rate is now 1.5, less than a child per family. Therefore, if everyone
had one child the population would half, as a result population in China will
begin to fall in about 2025 and the balance between the generations will become
very unstable. The implications of this domestic problem are highlighted in the
Chinese workforce. The age group just joining the workforce are about 20-25
years old, there are also the best educated and most active. In China now,
there’s about 120 million in that group, by 2040 there will be 60 million in
that group (The Economist, p21, 2011). Due to this disturbing fact, Chinese
investment in Africa is a way for them to expand their workforce across the
globe. There are hundreds of Chinese businesses growing in Africa, which is why
there are over 1 million Chinese nationals working and living in Africa at the
moment. However as Chinese business are growing they are still failing to pay
African workers a decent amount of wage. This, therefore, attract critics who
say China is a colonist country who is exploiting Africa and its resources.

 

Furthermore, the fact that China can be considered as a
superpower plays a vital role in their investment policy in Africa. China has
some of the worlds most advanced companies, with its nuclear weapons and high
technology missiles. Since 1971 China has been a permanent member of the UN
Security Council and their political influence across the globe has risen.
Being the second largest economy in the world makes China a great power because
they can finance and come to the aid of developing countries. Some realist
thinkers argue that we are now in a unipolar world system that is dominated by
the US. Although China can now be considered as a rival to the US, meaning it
is fair to suggest that its relationship with Africa is based on utilisation
and taking advantage of the lack of development and corruption Africa has. For
example, Chinese troops have now departed for the first overseas military base
in Djibouti a small country in Africa (Wenbin, p16, 2012). Because of this, it
provides China access through the red sea, which is one of the busiest shipping
routes in the world. Making China a more important state in terms of providing
humanitarian aid and benefit. As a result of this investment in Africa China is
now becoming a prominent player in the world of politics.

 

Consequently, Africa is gaining some economic benefits,
nevertheless there is no doubt that China’s interest goes beyond mere unselfishness.
Economically both in the public and private sector, China is benefiting from
this developing relationship. Chinese companies invest in Africa, as a result,
China receives access to the needed natural resources in Africa. Yong Deng an
associate professor in the department of political science spoke about these
benefits. He stated that “China feels that it is entitled to a Great power
status, so maintaining that in a global world order is always a long-term
foreign policy goal” (Brautigam,p12, 2015 ). Deng continued that “in terms
of great power rise… Africa carries an enormous amount of diplomatic weight in
shifting china’s diplomatic and political influence away from the US, western
dominated world order” (Brautigam, p12, 2015). Here we can see that Africa is
playing a very important role in ensuring China’s rise in the world; by working
with China Africa is enabling them to grow and spread their influence and power
across the globe.

 

In conclusion looking at the different drivers, processes
and the three level of analysis we can conclude there is no doubt that both China and African nations stand
to benefit in the investment from China.