Academic journal article Studia Politica; Romanian Political Science Review

China's Official Development Finance Flows in Zambia under the Beijing Consensus

Academic journal article Studia Politica; Romanian Political Science Review

China's Official Development Finance Flows in Zambia under the Beijing Consensus

Article excerpt

China1 has witnessed unprecedented economic growth since the adoption of the economic reforms, 40 years ago. For many contemporary developing countries, its example is perceived as an alternative development approach that is worth attention not only for its success, but also due to the disappointment arising from the acceptance and implementation of Westerncentered models of development experimented under the Washington Consensus, which led to the deterioration of economic, social, and political conditions in many developing countries. China's specific development experience triggered a controversial debate concerning the applicability or repeatability of its developmental path. This debate was triggered in 2004 when Joshua Cooper Ramo published the essay The Beijing Consensus2 focused on the development policies and reforms China adopted, as well as on its underlying values. Symbolically, just by using the term, Ramo called attention to the difference between this model and the model of the Western/Washington Consensus, formulated by John Williamson in 1989 and subsequently applied to developing countries and countries undergoing economic crises.

The Beijing Consensus therefore represents an alternative model that is appealing for developing countries due to China's economic success, a country that has managed to get hundreds of millions of its inhabitants out of poverty. As the African continent consists mainly of developing countries, this approach was rapidly perceived as a potential replacement of the Western model of development that gained a negative connotation among numerous African societies and political leaders, considering its impact on the micro-economic level as well as the core values and policies imposed by the donor-countries. Since 2000, when the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) was established,3 it has also been possible to observe a significant growth of Chinese involvement in Africa. With this increased interest, the financial flows - which can be characterized as Official Development Finance Flows - have been growing as well. As a result, between 2000 and 2014, with almost 30% share of China's total development financing, Africa became the second largest recipient of these flows, surpassed only by Asia.4

One of the African countries in which the Chinese presence and interests are the most evident is Zambia, a country where the development finance flows have reached a total amount of 5.4 billion USD, ranking the country among the top recipients on the continent. Because of these substantial investments, Zambia is an interesting case to examine as it has been receiving Chinese development finance flows quite regularly since the 1960s. This makes it a rather rare case in the African context - in most of the African countries, the cooperation eventually suffered from political and ideological turmoil resulting in a Chinese discontinuous influx of financial flows. Moreover, given this longlasting cooperation and support, the outstanding Zambia-China ties are at times referred to as "all-weather friends" relationship. In this respect, it is highly interesting to analyse the development finance flows in the Zambian case with the intent to better understand how these relations have changed after 2000. It is hence the objective of this article to evaluate the compliance with China's model of development – the so-called Beijing Consensus (as defined by Ramo) – and the evolution of the financial flows provided by the Chinese Official Development Finance to Zambia between 2000 and 2014. The research question is: Are the suggested principles of the Beijing Consensus observed in the case of Zambia during the provision of the Chinese ODF flows and projects?

There have been numerous publications dealing with the issue of Chinese development finance flows in Africa. Among the most significant studies, Bräutigam's articles and books stand out5. Her research can be considered, so far, to be the most extensive on the issue of China's development aid, in particular in relation to her intention to cover the information gap and to challenge some myths concerning China's involvement in Africa as well as China's specific understanding of what a development aid should includes. …

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