Author Archive

Harry Verhoeven

Harry Verhoeven is a Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of Politics and International Relations, Oxford University. He is a convenor of the Oxford University China-Africa Network (OUCAN).

Over the past decade, Chinese priorities have shifted. Before, foreign aid, investment and technology were an import. Now, each is an export. The speed and scope of this change—as Chinese firms, diplomats, traders and cash ‘go out’ in ever-increasing numbers—has ignited controversy and hyperbole. These debates rage in advanced economies in response to China’s rising clout and the acquisitions of global brands by its rapidly internationalising firms. They are also at fever pitch in the emerging world—where China has become an important new financier, development partner, and source of foreign direct investment (FDI). This is nowhere more visible than in Africa, where Chinese engagement has received far more attention than seems warranted at first glance. Chinese FDI flows to Africa make up only around two to four percent of the country’s total outward investment each year. Chinese FDI stock on the continent is a fraction of investments in Europe and the United States. However, these figures are growing rapidly, buttressed by an explosion in trade volumes—nearly doubling in the past four years alone to an estimated $200 billion in 2012—as well as deepening diplomatic engagement, development assistance, and accelerating migration between the two regions.