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The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy




Chinese investment activity in Africa has skyrocketed in recent years, outpacing every other nation except South Africa. China finances more infrastructure projects in Africa than the World Bank and provides billions of dollars in low-interest loans to the continent’s emerging economies. These loans and investments are typically made in exchange for securing access to natural resources. Based on its principles of nonintervention and respect for sovereignty, China gives this money with little or no strings attached. The West, which typically conditions its loans on initiatives like democracy promotion and corruption reduction, has labeled China a “rogue donor,” whose actions will be damaging to Africa in the long run. However, Western aid approaches like conditionality have largely been development failures. The Chinese model, with no colonial past or explicit political agenda, is a legitimate challenger to the Western aid status-quo. China is merely the largest and first leader of a growing cohort of developing countries interested in Africa’s commodities. These new investors have the option to adopt wholly China’s unconditioned approach or a more responsible engagement strategy. What all players are beginning to realize is that ultimately Africans themselves must decide what form they want this increased investment attention to take.

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