Dissertations and Theses

Date of Award


Document Type



International Relations

First Advisor

Kimberly Gamble-Payne

Second Advisor

Jean Krasno


China, Africa, Zambia, Africa-China Policy, Investment, Industrialization


Marked by investments, loans, and finance, China’s engagement in Africa has grown swiftly. Amongst sub-Saharan Africa’s many trading and developing partners, China remains the biggest partner and investor with an increase in trade relations.[1] The China-Africa relationship has brought significant economic opportunities, but it has also generated controversy in the international community. China has been challenged by some of forming a partnership with African governments solely for China’s own interests. China provides low-interest loans to the African governments for development and infrastructure projects. However, China’s motives are exploitative as China uses economic and political pressures to influence African governments to enter into agreements that are not in their best interests. The emergence of the global COVID-19 pandemic is a current factor in China-Africa relations, and China’s diplomacy.[2] As China continues to expand its economic ties in sub-Saharan Africa, evidence shows that China also jeopardizes the economic development of countries in Africa and takes advantage of their natural resources. Chinese-owned companies operating in Africa also lack transparency as Chinese-owned companies fail to clearly state their polices in contracts on infrastructure development.[3]

This thesis is a study of the motives and impacts of China’s engagement with sub-Saharan Africa. It will review the history and the current discourse on China’s interests in the region. A case study of China’s engagement with Zambia will be presented to illustrate the significance of China’s engagement with African governments and their development interests. Furthermore, this study will explore the China-Africa effect on the Zambian economy, government policies, and investigate the global relevance of China's presence in Africa. This study finds that China’s engagement with Zambia has led to aid dependency, fueled corruption, and caused economic disparities. This research is significant in International Relations as it contributes to the growing discourse regarding factors affecting economic growth in sub-Saharan Africa.

[1] School of Advanced International Studies. “Data: China-Africa Trade.” China Africa Research Initiative, 2021

[2] R. Maxwell Bone and Ferdinando Cinotto , “China's Multifaceted COVID-19 Diplomacy Across Africa ,” – The Diplomat (for The Diplomat, November 2, 2020), https://thediplomat.com/2020/11/chinas-multifaceted-covid-19-diplomacy-across-africa/.

[3] Oscar M. Otele, “Introduction. China-Africa Relations: Interdisciplinary Question and Theoretical Perspectives,” Brill (Brill, October 20, 2020), https://brill.com/view/journals/tare/47/2/article-p267_1.xml?language=en.



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