Building on Progress? Chinese Engagement in Ethiopia

Image: Flickr, Global Panorama
Image: Flickr, Global Panorama

A majority of the growing literature on Sino–African relations focus on China's relations with resource-rich/economically robust countries or unsavoury regimes.

Limited attention has been paid to the rest of Africa’s states, but it is in these ‘less significant’ countries, such as Ethiopia, that China has the potential to have the most impact. China’s economic engagement in the country focuses mainly on infrastructure development and tapping into the consumer base. Overarching judgements as to whether China’s engagement is a blessing or a curse for the country are still unclear. What is certain is that Ethiopia can derive much from China’s economic engagement; however, the impetus of responsibility for steering economic growth and equitable development rests solely with the Ethiopian government. Ethiopia must effectively invest in its own development, including improving agricultural production, expanding its manufacturing and services sectors, and generating sustainable economic growth over the medium and long term. In terms of issues of governance, China has a very clear policy of non-intervention, and this is strictly exercised in Ethiopia. The lack of censure by China and the international community of the current Ethiopian regime’s stalling of the democratisation process, human rights violations and closing up of political space may have troubling long-term political implications.

SAIIA sincerely thanks those who acted as peer reviewers for these papers.

29 Jul 2009


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Research by
SAIIA Occasional Paper, No 38, July 2009
Asia Pacific, Sub-Saharan Africa
China, Ethiopia
SAIIA Programme
Foreign Policy
Economic Growth, Infrastructure

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