- 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 factors.