imperialism, China-Africa, political economy
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This paper looks into the nature of China’s involvement with African nations, which is a highly debated issue in recent times. Supporters of African nations’ relations with China argue that African countries have enjoyed increased trade, aid and investment from these relations; skeptics, however, worry that these relations may be reminiscent of European colonization, hinging upon unequal exchange and the exploitation of Africa’s resources and people. This paper interrogates whether theories of Western colonization, imperialism, and dependency by John Hobson, Vladimir Lenin, Rosa Luxemburg and David Harvey can explain the current context and conditions of China’s role in Africa. I also employ a case study to look into this issue: that of land grabs in Africa. Land grabs mostly involve the expropriation of land in developing countries to facilitate food production and resource extraction to meet demand in more developed countries. While many regions of the Global South have been subject to land grabs, the bulk of these has occurred in Sub-Saharan Africa in recent times. Focusing on China’s role in the land grabs in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), the case study explores the economic and political aspects of China’s agricultural investments in the DRC, and the effects of this on dependency and unequal exchange. Through such an analysis, the relationships between capitalism and incipient, contemporary forms of domination and resource control may be unpacked.