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China’s Resource Diplomacy in Africa: Powering Development? by Marcus Power, Giles Mohan, May Tan-Mullins (auth.)

By Marcus Power, Giles Mohan, May Tan-Mullins (auth.)

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As Mohan and Tan-Mullins (2009) have argued, however, the term ‘Overseas Chinese’ has been used too loosely in many contexts, is inherently contested both within China and beyond and tends to subsume identity, class and behavioural differences under an overarching diasporic identity. Moreover ‘the Chinese’ are very different both culturally and linguistically. Often speaking different languages, let alone identifying as a coherent group, Chinese people in Africa have flexible identities and generate greater or lesser senses of community among themselves depending on a range of factors (Wilhelm 2006; Hsu 2007; Ho 2008).

But how far can we characterize China as neoliberal? The idea of China being ‘neo-liberal’ is often queried given the traditional understanding of ‘neoliberalism’ as entailing strict market features unimpeded by state planning which is seen to be irreconcilable with the reality of the Chinese experience. Giovanni Arrighi (2007), for example, argues that China has refused to follow neo-liberal prescriptions, implementing reforms gradually rather than by ‘shock therapy’ and emphasizing a national interest in stability (see also Schmitz 2007).

The other, and more interesting, difference which complicates Harvey’s account is China imports cheap labour. g. apartheid) whereas the Chinese practice ‘national selfexploitation’ by importing their labour. Murray Li has also argued that while Ferguson’s enclaves enable super-exploitation with minimal contact, ‘There is another dynamic, however, that is potentially more lethal: one in which places (or their resources) are useful, but the people are not, so that dispossession is detached from any prospect of labour absorption’ (2010: 69).

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