Skip to main content

Trade, Empires, and Subjects—China-Africa Trade: A New Fair Trade Arrangement, or the Third Scramble for Africa?

Posted by on Monday, July 23, 2012 in Articles, Vol. 41 No. 2, Volume 41, Volumes.

Since 2000, the interest of the People’s Republic of China (China) in Africa has grown steadily.  Trade between China and Africa has grown exponentially.  China-Africa trade volume increased from $10 billion to $18 billion between 2000 and 2003.  In 2005, total trade between Africa and China surged to $40 billion, and in 2006 China-Africa trade was valued at $55.5 billion.  A third of China’s crude oil imports come from Africa. In the West, reaction to China’s involvement in Africa has bordered on suspicion and paranoia.  Policy makers and analysts are concerned that China could gain control over Africa’s vast and untapped natural resources.  The current struggle over Africa’s resources evokes worrying memories of an earlier scramble for pieces of the continent.  This Article examines the opportunities and pitfalls that Sino-African trade relations present for Africa.  Instead of paranoia, this Article calls for guarded optimism regarding the deepening relationship.  While there is much that Africa could gain from the relationship, African leaders and Africans must guard against imperialism of any sort and shy away from arrangements that threaten sustainable development or undermine respect for human rights.  Most important, African leaders must push past Beijing’s rhetoric of anti-hegemonism and develop clear policies to guide the continent’s engagement with China.  Drawing on the rich but sad lessons from the scramble for Africa in the nineteenth century, African leaders must avoid the economic, political, and legal pitfalls of the past and position the continent to benefit from strategic relations with countries that could become future partners.

Tags: , , ,

Leave a Response

ExpressO Top 10 Law Review


The Journal is pleased to announce its 2018-2019 Board of Editors. Complete-Masthead-2018-2019

Vanderbilt University Law School Professor Michael A. Newton’s 2016 VJTL Article entitled How the International Criminal Court Threatens Treaty Norms  was cited by the International Criminal Court prosecutor’s November 2017 filing seeking investigation into war crimes in Afghanistan.

May 2018 Issue on the Second Israel Defense Forces International Conference on the Law of Armed Conflict. Read more about the Journal’s May 2018 issue here.

Thank you to everyone who attended the Journal’s 50th Anniversary celebration on October 5, 2017! View photos from the event here and read about the Journal’s history here.

Connect with the Vanderbilt Journal of Transnational Law on LinkedIn.

The Journal is pleased to listed as the #5 International Law Journal by the 2017 Washington and Lee Law Journal Rankings.

The Journal is very excited about the success of our February 2017 Symposium, “Sovereign Conduct on the Margins of the Law.” Read more about our February 2017 Symposium here

Please join us in congratulating the Vanderbilt Journal of Transnational Law 2017-2018 Write-On Competition Winners.

Video is available from the Vanderbilt Journal of Transnational Law’s 2015-2016 SymposiumThis is Not a Drill: Confronting Legal Issues in the Wake of International Disasters. Watch here.