‘China-powered’ African Agency and its Limits: The Case of the DRC 2007–2019

Chinese President Xi Jinping (2nd-L) meets with Bruno Tshibala Nzenze (2nd-R) the Prime Minister of the Democratic Republic of the Congo during a meeting at The Great Hall of People on September 6, 2018 in Beijing, China. Image: Getty, Lintao Zhang/Pool
Chinese President Xi Jinping (2nd-L) meets with Bruno Tshibala Nzenze (2nd-R) the Prime Minister of the Democratic Republic of the Congo during a meeting at The Great Hall of People on September 6, 2018 in Beijing, China. Image: Getty, Lintao Zhang/Pool

Does China provide African countries with ‘China-powered’ agency to challenge other external actors for their own political benefit?

Summary:

  • The issue of whether dealing with China saps African countries of agency, or actually increases it, is a long-running controversy.
  • The Democratic Republic of Congo is a particularly important case study of how much African countries can control their external relations via engagement with China.
  • The Sicomines deal – an extremely controversial resources-for-infrastructure loan deal in 2007 – allowed the DRC to maximise its agency by playing off China and western entities against each other.
  • However, China learned from this experience, and it changed Chinese practices on the continent.
  • The DRC example shows how African countries both possess agency, and how it is circumscribed by external facors.
12 Nov 2020
Download

File size: 653.57 KB

Research by
Series
SAIIA Policy Insights No 96, November 2020
Country
China, Democratic Republic of Congo
SAIIA Programme
Foreign Policy
Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on whatsapp
Share on email
Scroll to Top