‘Gifts make slaves just as whips make dogs:’ re-examining neo-colonialism in the context of China’s cooperation with the African continent
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This Master’s thesis conceptualises and analyses the concept of neo-colonialism in the context of China-Africa relations, with an emphasis on Zimbabwe. The thesis is built on examples of cooperation between China and Africa, and then China and Zimbabwe, in order to understand the role of China’s foreign policy in Africa as a whole and in Zimbabwe in particular. First, the methodology will be explained, and then a theoretical framework will be offered for geopolitics of resources, followed by outlining the theory of neo-colonialism before empirical evidence on the Sino-Africa cooperation is offered. The following five variables: development cooperation, market and resource seeking, foreign direct investment (FDI), infrastructure projects and soft power, will be considered in a pan-African and then Zimbabwe-specific context with evidence from local and international media, academic journals, government reports and policies, publicly available data, think tanks and international organisations. Then, the role of Africa in China’s foreign policy will be assessed based on these five variables and empirical findings. Finally, concluding remarks will determine the extent to which the following neo-colonial characteristics are present in China’s activities in Africa as a whole and Zimbabwe in specific: (1) noticeable asymmetry in the relationship; (2) a degree of agency from the colonised state; (3) multiple entities to carry out business and other activities, including the state, private- and state-owned businesses and nongovernmental organisations (NGOs); (4) no assumption of a former colonial relationship; (5) multiple areas of spreading influence, including economics, culture, education and other soft power areas. The extent of these in Africa and in Zimbabwe in particular will be assessed using the five independent variables before making conclusive remarks.