Author: Joshua Eisenman.
China's trade patterns with African countries have made Beijing the focal point of new anti-Chinese resistance narratives in Africa. Unlike the Maoist era, when China's trade policies served its leaders' political goals, now they aim to access markets as part of China's larger domestic development strategy. China's state-run firms can channel China–Africa trade through extra-market decisions that influence flows, yet, ultimately, Beijing's ability to direct trade with Africa is constrained by market forces. Despite suggestions that shared illiberalism drives China–Africa trade the author concludes that five interrelated causal factors overwhelmingly determine China–Africa trade: China's comparative advantage in labor-intensive and capital-intensive production; Africa's abundant natural resource endowments; China's rapid economic growth; China's emphasis on infrastructure building at home and in Africa; and the emergence of economies of scale in China's shipping and light manufacturing sectors.