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Chinese Engagement in South America and Africa: A Comparative Analysis Open Access

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This thesis will provide a comparative analysis of Chinese engagement with Sub Saharan Africa (SSA) and South America (SAm) under Beijing’s Go Out policy, launched in the early 2000s. The objectives of this foreign economic policy strategy include securing the commodities the Chinese economy needs to keep growing, find new markets for Chinese manufactures, and facilitate the internationalization of Chinese corporations to strengthen “national champions” and make them globally competitive. But the final goal of this policy is political: China wants to boost its international presence to match its status as a rising global power. As developing regions and major producers of raw materials and rising consumer markets, SSA and SAm were the perfect partners for this new stage in China’s development. While some present the Go Out policy as a strategy for geopolitical domination of SSA and SAm, this thesis will argue that Chinese engagement is complex, and adapts to local contexts in South America and Africa. Countries in SSA and SAm have different types of relationships with China, have been able to influence the terms of their asymmetric interdependence. This thesis will be divided in three parts: The first will be an analysis of China’s development experience, since the Go Out is only one phase of the process of domestic economic reforms launched by Deng Xiaoping in the late 1970s, based on state control, openness to foreign trade and investment, and careful experimentation. Secondly, this thesis will analyze and compare China’s engagement in SSA and SAm in terms of trade, investment, finance and diplomatic cooperation, as well as study the way in which China has adapted its policies to address concerns from recipient countries. My research will show that China’s economic influence is growing, but is much less dominant than what some reports might suggest.Finally, I will conduct an in-depth analysis of China’s engagement through six case studie. To better understand how China’s interests interact with those in countries in SSA and SAm I will organize this cases in a typology of three relationships China has established with countries in both regions: global partners (Brazil and South Africa) are key players in China’s efforts to gain influence in international governance, as well as diversified and industry-heavy economies; extractive relationships (Peru and Angola) are based on China’s interest in natural resources, but have also forced Chinese actors to adapt to local demands; finally, exclusive relationships (Venezuela and Zimbabwe) are countries that have become isolated from the west, increasing opportunities for China to secure long-term access to natural resources.

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