Author: Giles Mohan, Marcus Power.
The role of China in Africa must be understood in the context of competing and intensified global energy politics, in which the US, India and China are among the key players vying for security of supply. Contrary to popular representation, China's role in Africa is much more than this however, opening up new choices for African development for the first time since the neo-liberal turn of the 1980s. As such it is important to start by disaggregating ‘China’ and ‘Africa’ since neither represents a coherent and uniform set of motivations and opportunities. This points to the need for, at minimum, a comparative case study approach which highlights the different agendas operating in different African states. It also requires taking a longue durée perspective since China-Africa relations are long standing and recent intervention builds on cold war solidarities, in polemic at least. It also forces us to consider Chinese involvement in Africa as ambivalent, but contextual. Here we look at the political dimensions of this engagement and set out a research agenda that focuses on class and racial dynamics, state restructuring, party politics, civil society responses and aid effectiveness.