New Horizons in Environmental and Energy Law series
Edited by Francis N. Botchway
Chapter 11: Regime Theory and China–Africa Economic Relations: New Ideas in Old Paradigms?
Francis N. Botchway 1 INTRODUCTION China’s relationship with Africa dates as far back as 202 bc, but 1955 is hailed as the genesis of the modern phase of Sino-African relations.1 One reason for this thinking is that the key principles of Chinese foreign policy, which were later re-stated for African purposes, were enunciated at the Bandung Africa–Asia Conference held in that year.2 Although China contributed significantly to Africa’s development with such projects as the TanZam railway, the match factory in Guinea and the sending of agricultural experts to Ghana and Mali, China’s involvement in Africa prior to 1990 was mainly influenced by politics3 – a big developing country helping other developing countries in their struggle for economic and political independence. Since the ‘Open Door’ policy, China’s relationship with Africa has clearly been much more economic.4 The centrepiece of Chinese African policy is mutuality of benefit.5 This is evidenced in the packaging of investments in Africa, the building of infrastructure, and other projects, in return for access to Africa’s resources, particularly energy resources. The first question that this chapter attempts to answer is whether this is the beginning of a new economic order. It could be, depending largely on the response of Africa’s other development partners. The second question is: what is the role of law in this ‘new’ relationship? Are Chinese economic relations with Africa formulated in formal legal terms as in the nature of a bilateral investment treaty (BIT) or the US Africa Growth and Opportunity Act or the...
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