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Title: Comparing the Effects of Chinese and Traditional Official Finance on State Repression and Public Demonstrations in Africa
Authors: Che, Afa’anwi Ma’abo
Keywords: China Africa Initiative
Public Demonstration
Issue Date: 2020
Series/Report no.: Policy Brief;NO 51
Abstract: DO FOREIGN OFFICIAL FINANCE FLOWS FROM CHINA and traditional Western sources vary in their effects on state repression and public demonstrations in Africa? While one study by Kishi and Raleigh asserts a distinct, statistically significant positive association between Chinese official finance and repression, no quantitative comparative study has been conducted on the effects of Chinese and traditional official finance on public demonstrations in the form of protests and riots.1 The working paper on which this policy brief is based reassesses the effects of Chinese and traditional official finance on repression after rectifying some biases I identified in Kishi and Raleigh’s study. Notable among the biases is the study’s exclusion of analysis relating to recent (post-2013) years which have witnessed nascent reforms to Beijing’s foreign aid policy that, ostensibly, induce checks against misuse of Chinese official finance.2 More innovatively, the research assesses the effects of Chinese and traditional official finance on anti-government, public demonstrations. Additionally, the working paper compares case studies in Cameroon, which mostly receives unconditional Chinese official finance and Uganda, which receives more conditional traditional finance, to determine how well the paper’s statistical relationships are borne out. While Uganda has suffered more protests and riots than Cameroon over the period between 2001 and 2018, data on demonstrations in the two countries from Armed Conflict Location and Event Data (ACLED) suggests that Chinese-funded development projects have encountered more anti-project protests and riots compared to Western, particularly World Bank-funded projects. To verify and explain the higher rates of manifestations against Chinese-funded projects, I undertook fieldwork in Cameroon involving comparative project interviews on three selected Chinese projects (the Douala- Yaounde expressway project; the Memve’ele hydropower project; and the Kribi deep seaport project) and two World Bank-sponsored projects (the Lom Pangar hydropower project and the Douala road infrastructure project). The fieldwork was guided by the following research questions:
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