Friday, March 21, 2014



IWS Documented News Service


Institute for Workplace Studies----------------- Professor Samuel B. Bacharach

School of Industrial & Labor Relations-------- Director, Institute for Workplace Studies

Cornell University

16 East 34th Street, 4th floor---------------------- Stuart Basefsky

New York, NY 10016 -------------------------------Director, IWS News Bureau






by Larry Hanauer, Lyle Morris


[full-text, 173 pages]







Most analyses of Chinese engagement in Africa focus either on what China gets out of these partnerships or the impacts that China's aid and investment have had on African countries. This analysis approaches Sino-African relations as a vibrant, two-way dynamic in which both sides adjust to policy initiatives and popular perceptions emanating from the other. The authors focus on (1) Chinese and African objectives in the political and economic spheres and how they work to achieve them, (2) African perceptions of Chinese engagement, (3) how China has adjusted its policies to accommodate often-hostile African responses, and (4) whether the United States and China are competing for influence, access, and resources in Africa and how they might cooperate in the region.


The authors find that Chinese engagement in the region is primarily concerned with natural resource extraction, infrastructure development, and manufacturing, in contrast to the United States' focus on higher-technology trade and services as well as aid policies aimed at promoting democracy, good governance, and human development. African governments generally welcome engagement with China, as it brings them political legitimacy and contributes to their economic development. Some segments of African society criticize Chinese enterprises for their poor labor conditions, unsustainable environmental practices, and job displacement, but China has been modifying its approach to the continent to address these concerns. China and the United States are not strategic rivals in Africa, but greater American commercial engagement in African markets could generate competition that would both benefit African countries and advance U.S. interests.


Key Findings


Intertwined Interests of China and Africa

•China has four overarching strategic interests in Africa: access to natural resources, particularly oil and gas; markets for Chinese exports; political legitimacy; and sufficient security and stability to continue its commercial activities.

•African governments look to China to provide political recognition and legitimacy and to contribute to their economic development through aid, investment, infrastructure development, and trade.


The Impact of Chinese Engagement on African Countries

•Chinese engagement in Africa has had some positive effects: job creation, the development of critically needed infrastructure, and an increase in economic growth, particularly in sectors or geographic areas in which international financial institutions and Western governments and companies have been unwilling to engage.

•Chinese engagement has also had deleterious effects: It has helped nondemocratic regimes cling to power; reinforced many African countries' dependence on raw materials and unskilled labor; contributed to the loss of hundreds of thousands of manufacturing jobs in certain industries, such as textiles; and contributed to high levels of debt, economically unviable decisions, and official corruption.


African Perceptions of Chinese Engagement, and China's Reaction

•African leaders and governments generally portray Chinese engagement as positive.

•Opinion polls show that Africans hold generally positive views of China, but public opinion of China is also negatively affected by perceptions that Chinese investment contributes to corruption, waste, poor working conditions, and job displacement.

•To better foster sustainable, long-term relationships in Africa, China has increased its efforts to develop soft power (media, culture, and people-to-people exchanges) and provide more aid in areas such as health, sustainability, and security.


Implications for U.S. Policy

•Washington and Beijing do not compete directly against each other for strategic access or influence in Africa.

•There has been relatively little Sino-U.S. cooperation in Africa, and opportunities for greater cooperation are limited.

•Greater American commercial engagement in African markets could generate competition for Chinese entities that would both benefit African countries and advance U.S. interests.



•China modified its Africa policy — pledging to create more local jobs, transfer more technology, and improve working conditions — because African publics demanded it. Therefore, the best way for Washington to promote a change in Chinese policy toward Africa is not to pressure Beijing directly, but rather to do even more to promote democracy, accountability, and transparency in the region.

•Similarly, the United States should promote greater private investment in Africa. Competition from American industry will force Chinese enterprises to offer better deals to African governments and private partners, as well as drive Chinese firms to be more socially responsible and generate greater benefits for the communities in which they operate.

•The United States should cultivate good relations with a wider range of African countries, much as China does through the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation.


See also--


by Larry Hanauer, Lyle Morris


[full-text, 5 pages]


Discusses China's engagement with African countries, including what each side wants from these relationships, how Africans view China's involvement and how China has reacted to that, and whether the United States and China are competing in Africa.




This information is provided to subscribers, friends, faculty, students and alumni of the School of Industrial & Labor Relations (ILR). It is a service of the Institute for Workplace Studies (IWS) in New York City. Stuart Basefsky is responsible for the selection of the contents which is intended to keep researchers, companies, workers, and governments aware of the latest information related to ILR disciplines as it becomes available for the purposes of research, understanding and debate. The content does not reflect the opinions or positions of Cornell University, the School of Industrial & Labor Relations, or that of Mr. Basefsky and should not be construed as such. The service is unique in that it provides the original source documentation, via links, behind the news and research of the day. Use of the information provided is unrestricted. However, it is requested that users acknowledge that the information was found via the IWS Documented News Service.



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