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Accepted Paper:

Testbed or Thoroughfare? Africa's Place in China's Grand Strategy  
Padraig Carmody (Trinity College Dublin) Benjamin Barton (University of Nottingham Malaysia)

Paper short abstract:

Africa is often considered too powerless and economically marginal to play a significant role in "the great game" of global power competition for many scholars of Western International Relations. What is Africa's place in China's grand strategy? Is it central or is it now being bypassed?

Paper long abstract:

Much has been written in recent decades about China's rising role in Africa and its global strategy. However these literatures remain largely disconnected. Africa is considered too powerless and economically marginal to play a significant role in "the great game" of global power competition for many scholars of Western International Relations. What is Africa's place in China's grand strategy? Is it central to it or is it now being largely bypassed for a more intense focus on more economically promising and powerful parts of Eurasia. This paper explores this question through an analysis of the ways in which Africa has served as a testbed for China's going out strategy and its reformulation in the era of the Belt and Road, which is largely focussed on Eurasia. As a result of China's changing geopolitical code new strategies of embedding and influence are being sought. Does shift in Africa prefigure a broader global shift in China's grand strategy and a softening of so-called "wolf warrior diplomacy" or does it bespeak a more geographically variegated and regionally tailored grand strategy. This paper explores these issues with reference to recent developments on the continent.

Panel Econ25
Diversifying dependence or structural transformation: China's engagement in Africa
  Session 1 Saturday 3 June, 2023, -