Theorizing Sino-African Relations: A Constructivist Perspective
Jean-Germain Gros, Hung-Gay Fung

Studies of contemporary Sino-African relations often display two perspectives, which also happen to be dominant in the field of international relations. One is zero-sum and informed by realism and Marxism, viewing Sino-African relations as evocative of European colonialism in the late 19th century. The other perspective is positive-sum and rooted in (neo)liberalism, which is sometimes coated with a Chinese flavor (Sino-neoliberalism). China-centric initiatives, such as One Belt One Road (OBOR), are emblematic of this outlook, according to which both China and Africa stand to benefit from greater cooperation (so-called win-win). This article counteroffers a broadly constructivist approach to Marxist-realist-liberal discourses on Sino-African relations, which are too structurally deterministic and, by implication, insufficiently agential and intersubjective. The article summarizes Marxism, realism, and liberalism, demonstrating where and why they fall short. It highlights constructivism as theory. It examines the history of Sino-African relations from 1957 to 2018 from the constructivist perspective, to validate the central argument: i.e., constructivism shines a brighter light on Sino-African relations than the other theories.

Full Text: PDF     DOI: 10.15640/jirfp.v7n1a4