One of the most well-known and talked about international economic relationships, China and Africa’s partnerships span industries and eclipse global ties of many nations. Discussing his book China-Africa Economic Diplomacy and What It Reveals About the Global Supply Chain, researcher, professor and author Dr. Tang Xiaoyang filled The Diplomat in on what direction he believes their cooperations are moving.
While some claim exploitation, the interview showcases China’s former position (30 years ago) much like present Africa taking in foreign aid and being dependent on exports.
Through an Official Development Assistance (ODA) agreement, Japan was responsible for lending China $21.5 billion over the course of nearly 20 years between 1978 – 1999, according to Masayuki Masuda’s China Perspectives (2003).
Although no time soon, Dr. Xiaoyang predicts that if China continues to invest in expanding Africa’s local manufacturing landscape, the familiar ‘Made in China’ tag that’s placed on the bottom of thousands of products may eventually read ‘Made in Africa.’
“Definitely many labor intensive and low value-added products will move away from China as labor and production costs rise. Some of them may come to Africa, but I don’t expect that there will be a lot of factories coming directly from China to Africa, because the infrastructure and industrial basis is still very poor in the continent,” Dr. Xiaoyang told The Diplomat.
Plus — on the behalf of China — the groundwork for stretching Africa’s local manufacturing industry has already began.
He believes that local production in Africa will slow China imports. Exports leaving China, he said, are becoming more expensive. Therefore as “hundreds of factories have been established by former Chinese traders” in Africa, imports that used to come from China may ultimately shift to being imported from Africa.
While Africa does not have the capacity to fully adapt to China’s economic models, the nation’s push has been greatly beneficial to Africa’s socio-economic progression, the report said. China has also been a model for Africa’s Special Economic Zones, which are popping up across the continent.