Mozambique’s Fortune Cookie, An alternative perspective into China’s recent expansion into Mozambique & Sub-Saharan Africa

Start date: 10 June, 2015 End date: 19 July, 2015 Project type: Master's Thesis (prior to 2018) Project code: A27927 Countries: Mozambique Institutions: Aarhus University (AU), Denmark Grant recipient: Tania Maj Vanimal Roden Total grant: 19,000 DKK



The underlying purpose of this thesis is to present an alternative if not complementary perspective to the most recent wave of discussions regarding China’s expansion into Mozambique and sub-Saharan Africa (SSA)i as it is argued that the current dominating discourse lacks nuance, but more importantly it is found to lack much consideration of the African perspective as the discussion remained one that focuses on China’s needs and reasons for expanding into the continent. The African continent has been given little to no agency as “the discourse always seems to be one where Africa is acted upon, or in some way acted against” (Mazimhaka, 2013). This paper wishes to do up with this by discussing by extending and shifting the on-going discourse on the Chinese expansion into the Mozambique and sub-Saharan Africa in terms of ‘the bigger picture’ which goes beyond China’s race for resources, by first and foremost attempting to view said relations from the perspectives of the parties involved versus that of leading academia.
In so doing, it will be argued that while acknowledging that the acquisition of
natural resources is clearly of importance to China’s current needs and future goals, contrary to the conclusions that China is only interested in exploiting Mozambique’s (and Africa’s) resources, this paper will attempt to show that such a conventional answer is partial at best, and misleading at worst. More importantly however, the paper will seek to highlight that the most recent wave of Sino-Mozambican relations have been as a result of a combined convergence of two key events, namely, to summarise:

(i) growing disenchantment with the deemed tried and failed western development paradigm as African states remain(ed) incapable of solving their current development quandary’s, and

(ii) China’s own eagerness to fill in the vacuum left by the West as part of its own development needs and global strategies.
By repositioning the discussion by focusing attention to how China’s expansion
may be perceived by those seemingly being acted against, by taking the effort to resituate the Sino-African debate as is done in this thesis, it will hopefully enable others to imagine how the Chinese expansion into Mozambique and the continent at large may look like from the perspective of those seemingly being acted against. This is done in the hopes of shedding some more light on a topic likely to be of growing focus and importance within international (development) studies and relations for a few years to come as China’s engagement with Africa (and other regions) continues grow.