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Two Markets, Two Resources: Documenting China’s Engagement in Africa


Under a “state-led, enterprise-driven” approach, Chinese firms have significantly expanded their presence in extractive industries in African countries over the past three decades. This substantial economic footprint has bolstered China's energy security and positioned Chinese firms to control critical segments of global supply chains and enjoy unparalleled access to Africa's emerging consumer markets. It has often failed to deliver promised benefits to African partners, while leaving many countries heavily indebted to and dependent on trade with China.

The following report, prepared for the Commission by Horizon Advisory, examines China's strategic engagement on the African continent. In numerous graphics and several case studies, the report traces Chinese investment in African countries' mining, extraction, infrastructure, and agricultural sectors, and concludes by considering the nexus between China's substantial economic interests and small but growing security presence on the continent. Drawing on Chinese-language media coverage and journal articles, the report finds that China's government has shown an apparent willingness to leverage its influence in UN peacekeeping operations to undermine the UN’s code of conduct to protect its economic interests and advance other objectives. It also finds Chinese industry associations are encouraging Chinese enterprises to establish operations in African countries to circumvent export restrictions imposed on China by the United States and European Union, or to take advantage of favorable export terms intended for African companies through legislation such as the African Growth and Opportunity Act. 

Foreign Affairs,