Chinese Economic Statecraft: A Comparative Study of China’s Oil-backed Loans in Angola and Brazil

Ana Cristina Alves


Africa’s and South America’s rich endowments of resources and great need for infrastructure development make them perfect candidates for China’s “infrastructure-for-resources” loans. Over the past decade, such an arrangement for pursuing China’s resource-security goals overseas – namely, securing long-term supply contracts and accessing exploration rights – has proved more effective in Africa than in South America. This article discusses the reasons for this regional variation by providing a comparative study of China’s economic statecraft in Angola and Brazil, focusing on the deployment of infrastructure-for-oil deals. It argues that the variation in China’s energy-security outcomes (long-term supply and access to oil equity) in Angola and Brazil can be attributed mostly to fundamental differences between the institutional structures of each country’s oil industry. Although this foreign policy instrument has worked well for the centralised structure encountered in Angola, it has been less suitable for the far more liberalised and regulated environment that characterises Brazil’s oil sector.

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