In recent years, China’s economic presence in Africa has led to a heated debate, some of it well-informed and some of it not, about the nature of Chinese involvement and its implications for the continent. The debate is partially motivated by the rapid growth of China’s economic presence in Africa. This aid to Africa has raised many questions, such as its composition, its goal and nature.
The intention of China’s aid to Africa is benign but not altruistic. China does not seek to use aid to influence the domestic politics of African countries or dictate policies. Instead, it truly hopes to help Africa achieve better development while avoiding meddling with the internal affairs of African countries through conditional aid. But on the other hand, China is not helping Africa in exchange for nothing. Chinese projects create access to Africa’s natural resources and local markets, business opportunities for Chinese companies and employment for Chinese labors. When Chinese officials emphasize that China also provides aid to countries that are not rich in natural resources to defuse international criticisms, they often forget to mention that China may have its eyes on other things which these countries can deliver, such as their support of Beijing’s “one China” policy, of China’s agenda at multilateral forums, and of China as a “responsible stakeholder.” In this sense, China’s comprehensive, multi-dimensional agenda of its aid to Africa defies any simplistic categorization.
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