Friedrich Schiller University Jena and Max Planck Institute of Economics, Jena
In recent years, China has become a major power on the African continent, not only with respect to trade and investment, but also as a donor of development aid. Although there is no accurate measure of the exact size of Chinas aid program, since China rather underestimates the volume in official statistics, estimates on the basis of press releases, official announcements and assessments of major projects in Africa suggest that China has already overtaken the World Bank in lending to Africa. In this article, we analyze Chinas aid policy in Africa from a political economy perspective. We show that China is using (tied) aid and loans in order to reach specific economic and political goals and that Beijing has been quite successful in doing so. The impressing success of China in getting access to African countries can be explained by comparative advantages of the Peoples Republic, especially in unstable nations and rough states. Chinas engagement in Africa causes some serious problems with traditional donors. We discuss these conflicts and provide a critical assessment of Chinas role in Africa. Finally, we discuss the policy implications for the donor community.