African Agency in the China - Africa relationship

The Konrad Adenauer Foundation and SAIIA cordially invite you to a seminar on the African Agency in the China-Africa Relationship.


Africa’s relationship with China is haunted by massive differences in size and power. How can an economy the size of Togo or Malawi negotiate with one the size of China? This difference was especially stark at the recent Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) summit in Beijing, where numerous African leaders gathered to meet their sole Chinese counterpart.

This power gap has led to the China-Africa relationship being described as neo-colonialist. However, the evidence on the ground suggests a more complex reality. Despite a lack of power, African governments do sometimes get what they want from China. The real situation is something different from simple exploitation. Yet, the power gap is real.

This complexity raises the question: What is African agency in relation to China? Who wields it, where is it located, and how can it be maximised? Do platforms like FOCAC enhance or diminish African agency? These are complex questions that cannot be shoehorned into a ‘neo-colonialism’ or ‘win-win’ narrative.

This event will feature discussions between African and Chinese experts about how Africa can get what it wants from its relationship with China. The event will feature cutting-edge research on African decision-making in relation to China in the fields of infrastructure financing and debt, mining and industrialisation, wildlife management, and defence.

Register here.

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Yale RoadJan Smuts House, Wits Eastern Campus,
Republic of South Africa
Zur Webseite



  • Ms Elizabeth Sidiropoulos (Chief Executive
    • South African Institute of International Affairs)
      • Mr Henning Suhr (Country Representative
        • Konrad Adenauer Foundation South Africa) and more speakers in the programme

          Henning Suhr

          Henning Suhr bild

          Head of the KAS office in South Africa

 +27 11 214 29 00 +27 11 214 29 13/14