Views from the "Periphery": The Manifold Reflections of China's Rise in the DR Congo

Johanna Jansson

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China’s rise has produced a variety of impulses on the African continent. The understanding of these dynamics is essential for this book’s endeavour to explore how China’s rise impacts on semi-periphery and periphery countries. This chapter makes a contribution in this regard by means of a case study of one African country, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), a country which indeed could be labelled ‘periphery’. While the current changes in China have been underway since 1978, as discussed in this book’s introduction, Sino-African relations only started to gain importance from 2000 onwards (e.g. Alden et al 2008). In the case of the DRC, ties with China started intensifying even later, after 2006. This was the year in which the DRC’s elections, the first since 1965, ended the country’s period of transition after the 1996-1997 and 1998-2003 civil wars. Prior to this, war-torn DRC had been peripheral to China’s foreign policy ambitions.
This chapter rebuts the common notion that “China’s quest for resources is driving its significant presence in Africa”, here formulated by Butts and Bankus (2009:1). Indeed, China’s need for resources is of great importance in this context, but the picture is more complex. The Chinese presence in Africa is equally driven by market seeking and diplomatic dynamics unrelated to the need for natural resources. This argument has indeed been made by a number of scholars (e.g. Brautigam 2009, Mohan and Power 2008, Snow 2008) but has to date not been applied to the Congolese context. This is the gap that this chapter seeks to fill. It analyses each facet of the Chinese presence in the DRC and argues that whereas the Chinese activities are all propelled by China’s rise, they both differ and converge in terms of their characteristics and drivers. The chapter’s contributes to this book’s endeavour by showing how the Chinese activities in the DRC reflect the past decades’ changes in China.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Rise of China : The Impact on Semi-Periphery and Periphery Countries
EditorsXing Li, Steen F. Christensen
Number of pages30
Place of PublicationAalborg
PublisherAalborg Universitetsforlag
Publication date2012
ISBN (Print)978-87-7112-017-2
Publication statusPublished - 2012

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