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Volume Six Winter-Spring 2011-2012 Numbers 3-4.
THE BEAST FROM THE EAST: UNSETTLING CHINESE DEVELOPMENT AGENDA IN AFRICA
School of Global Studies, Social Science and Planning
GPO Box 3476
Melbourne, VIC 3001, Australia
Published online: February 10, 2017
Over the past decade, China has emerged as an important global actor in the field of international development. Specifically, China’s expansion into Africa has not only resulted in intensified social, political, economic and cultural links with Africa, but it has also seen China as a major source of bilateral aid. The current Chinese aid architecture emphasizes non-interference in domestic politics and non-conditional lending. This article argues that while China’s emergence as a major actor in development assistance in Africa provides a number of opportunities and benefits, there is very little scrutiny of the effectiveness of Chinese aid. Chinese aid to Africa defies the Western donor aid architecture by eschewing conditionalities around governance and human rights. To date, the academic literature tends to focus on China-Africa relations from an international relations perspective, with limited critical analysis of the impact of Chinese ‘tied aid’ system, ‘project-based’ development approach, and the ‘power dynamics’ in the aid, trade and investment processes. There is also a dearth in examining the complexity of development processes from an African perspective. This article posits that while the concept of development has been the subject of intense and sustained theoretical, philosophical, empirical and methodological debate, the neo-classical ‘modernist’ frameworks have, in many ways, neglected the fundamental ingredients of African social, political, cultural and institutional diversity.