Building on progress? Chinese engagement in Ethiopia
neither viewed as especially ‘controversial’ regimes nor as economic powerhouses. Since Africa is heterogeneous, China’s policy towards the continent will be tailored to suit the particularities of each country. As such, Ethiopia is an interesting case study of Chinese engagement in Africa. This paper provides a brief political and economic background to Ethiopia, a discussion of Sino-Ethiopian relations in the areas of economic and political development, and a critical assessment of China’s engagement in Ethiopia.
Different from the Chinese support of regimes such as those in Zimbabwe and Sudan or investment in resource-rich/service-rich countries such as Sudan, Angola, Nigeria and South Africa, it is apparent that China is pursuing another type of engagement with the rest of the continent, focusing on infrastructure development, tapping into a vast consumer base, and geostrategic factors. Overarching judgements as to
whether China’s engagement is a blessing or a curse for Ethiopia are still unclear.
The paper recognises that Chinese engagement is not a solution for all of Ethiopia’s economic and political malaise. However, China’s contribution to economic development remains significant, and this will help Ethiopia move towards the socio-economic progress that it so desires.The author argues that Ethiopia must seize the enormous opportunity that China’s increased engagement presents, and it will need to effectively invest its proceeds in its own development, including improving agricultural production, expanding its manufacturing and services sectors, and generating sustainable economic growth over the medium and long term. This will enable the country to help alleviate poverty and create equitable social development.