A Dragon and a Dove? A Comparative Overview of Chinese and European Trade Relations with Sub-Saharan Africa

Bert Jacobs

Abstract


As China’s footprint in African trade grows larger by the day, the need to contextualize this rise through comparative analysis becomes ever more necessary. This paper contrasts the sub-Saharan trade relations of both China and Europe with their respective designated stereotypes: those of a dragon and a dove. The article compares the trade dynamics on four levels: the policies and institutional mechanisms that shape the relationship; the composition of the trade flows; the geographic distribution of trade dominance; and the influence of norms and values on the trade pattern. It concludes that although there are empirical grounds behind these stereotypes, Chinese and European trade relations with sub-Saharan Africa are becoming more similar, partly due to a more hawkish European stance.

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