China and Angola: A Marriage of Convenience?

Image: Flickr, Gaynor Barton
Image: Flickr, Gaynor Barton

There has been an explosion of attention given to China's interests and activities in Africa and on the wide spectrum of Chinese actors involved in countries across the continent, but the terms and implications of the China-Angola partnership remain unclear.

A new book, focuses on the increased co-operation between Angola and China. It shows that although relations with China might have bolstered regime stability and boosted the international standing of the Angolan government, China is not regarded as a long term strategic partner.

The book is edited by Ana Alves, Senior Researcher at the South African Institute of International Affairs (SAIIA) and Marcus Power, a professor with the University of Durham.

Offering a rich overview of relations from the perspectives of foreign policy, public policy, energy, industry, infrastructure and labour, the authors examine some of the labour, infrastructure and policy issues arising from Chinese involvement in Angola’s oil, construction, retail and wholesale sectors. A survey of Angolan workers’ perceptions of Chinese corporate practices shows the need for better local control to tackle the shortcomings and foster the benefits stemming from cultural, economic and professional interchange. The involvement of Chinese firms in Angola’s costly centralised housing programme in the post-war era shows how the needs and capacities of Angolans have consistently been ignored.

The book also explores Chinese perceptions of Angola and their relationship, discerns some notable shifts since the early 1980s and demonstrates the importance of grassroots interactions which have often been overlooked in accounts of China-Angola relations.


“Much mythologising has taken place about China and Africa, but detailed work on individual relationships is rare and, where it exists, of poor standard. This book overcomes those faults with superb contributors and illuminating insight.”
— Stephen Chan, professor of international relations, School of Oriental and African Studies, London

“A timely and exciting collection of articles that offers valuable insights into Beijing’s strategic engagement with its one of its biggest oil partners in Africa. A must read for China–Africa observers interested in the next stage of the debate in the discourse.
— Sanusha Naidu, senior researcher, South African Foreign Policy Initiative, Open Society Foundation for South Africa

“Well done! We need more studies like this with Chinese and African scholars involved in the writing and evaluation of China–Africa cooperation.
— Li Anshan, director, Institute of Afro-Asian Studies, Peking University

“This collection of essays provides an insightful portrait of Chinese–Angolan relations and shows that, contrary to assumption of Chinese domination, Angolan elites are very much in the driver’s seat. Required reading for anyone interested in China–Africa relations.
— Ricardo Soares de Oliveira, lecturer in African politics, Department of Politics and International Relations, University of Oxford

13 Aug 2012