The Oil Factor in Sino–Angolan Relations at the Start of the 21st Century

Image: Flickr, CIFOR

Even though trade figures are the most impressive feature of Sino–Angolan bilateral relations after 2002, the main reason why China’s engagement in Angola has been attracting so much attention from scholars, the media and politicians is the fact that its presence in Angola is most evident in the sectors that have been driving Angola’s rapid economic growth in recent years, which are infrastructure construction and the oil industry.

While Chinese firms’ stake in Angola’s reconstruction is mostly a product of Beijing’s credit lines to Luanda, Chinese participation in the oil sector is emerging mostly through direct investment. It is worth bearing in mind, however, that bilateral trade is dominated by Chinese oil imports and that even Chinese credit lines for infrastructure remain closely linked to China’s interests in the Angolan oil sector, since, firstly, they are guaranteed by oil supply contracts and, secondly, because of the goodwill these loans generate among the Angolan political elite that controls the oil concessions. This fact may give a clearer insight into the critical relevance of the oil factor for Beijing in this relationship.

SAIIA sincerely thanks those who acted as peer reviewers for this paper.