The Rise of China and the Significance of Sino-African Relations

Daniel Dang Nielsen & Stefan Elver Hansen

Studenteropgave: Semesterprojekt


China’s recent reinvigorated relations with African countries over the past two decades have been one of the most significant developments in the region. The idea of marginalization appears to be contradicted with the recent upsurge of political and economic investments directed towards Afri-can countries. The Sino-African relationship is part of a recently more active foreign policy and international strategy of China based on the increasingly developing multipolarity. Developments of increased and alternative development assistance, debt cancellation and a boom in bilateral trade with a strategic Chinese focus on raw materials to sustain their future economic growth, have prov-en to be mutually advantageous. China presents an attractive alternative to the traditional unilateral development assistance posed by the US and the West. China has done so by implementing such alternative initiatives and in the meantime gained valuable diplomatic support to defend its interna-tional interests. Though these developments of economic and political nature cannot exist without having consequences for the interstate system and have been accompanied by changes to the geopo-litical landscape. For one, China’s alternative development assistance is based on the “Five Princi-ples of Co-Existence”, making China able to engage with authoritarian governments and otherwise considered as rouge states. This relationship is therefore at times of the expense of human rights making the economic involvement and developments mixed at best. However, the increasing rela-tionship have been institutionalized by the creation of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation thereby creating the incentive for further cooperation and sharing of expertise. This has in some instances meant African states are starting to emulate the Chinese model for development. This de-velopment raises the question of, what political consequences does this increase in relations be-tween Africa and China actually have? This project investigates that question by setting these developments into perspective with the theo-retical framework of Modern System Theory developed by Giovanni Arrighi. By portraying the financial expansion in Africa and the development of foreign markets, while sustaining their eco-nomic growth, we argue the engagement and commitments in Africa are similar to that of previous hegemonies. Due to the processes we analyse, we argue that China may become the next hegemon in the interstate system. In our investigation we have greater emphasis on how in relation to the pro-cesses of the theory instead of the why and when. During the analysis and the following discussion we conclude that the tendencies that China is portraying in the interstate system is towards hegemo-ny, but it will only sustain if the present developments are without interruptions.

UddannelserGlobal Studies, (Bachelor/kandidatuddannelse) Bachelor el. kandidat
Udgivelsesdato10 jan. 2013
VejledereJohanna Hood


  • Leadership
  • World systems theory
  • China
  • Africa
  • Hegemony
  • Modern world theory
  • Sino-African relations
  • FDI