SciELO - Scientific Electronic Library Online

vol.62 número3Poverty and human dignity: The magisterium of the Catholic Church on the interaction between the twoAnalysing the contributory role of the accounting profession to save our planet índice de autoresíndice de assuntospesquisa de artigos
Home Pagelista alfabética de periódicos  

Serviços Personalizados



Links relacionados

  • Em processo de indexaçãoCitado por Google
  • Em processo de indexaçãoSimilares em Google


Tydskrif vir Geesteswetenskappe

versão On-line ISSN 2224-7912
versão impressa ISSN 0041-4751


LOTTER, Casper. China's long, unfinished twentieth century and its possible implications for Africa. Tydskr. geesteswet. [online]. 2022, vol.62, n.3, pp.543-567. ISSN 2224-7912.

In this contribution, China S unprecedented economic achievements and great power ambitions are considered; in particular, what the implications of this epoch-making development on the world-stage could be for the continent of Africa. China's seeking to be reckoned as a great power is normally explained by way of either realism or idealism (and less commonly, constructivism), but with the gap in the extant knowledge, I attempt to identify and address the uncanny role that history has also had in influencing this. Put differently, the question posed is: what is the role of a historical consciousness in terms of China's feverish striving for great power status? In this regard, I take Orville Schell and John Delury's important text Wealth and power: China's long march to the twenty-first century (2014), as my point of departure. I also employ a poststructuralist methodology within a historical theoretical framework in order to take advantage of both nuanced and contradictory approaches. The so-called "Chinese Dream" of fuqiang (wealth and power) is fed by the rhetoric of the "hundred years of humiliation" (1842-1949), which is considered to span the years between the conclusion of the First Opium War in 1842 and the declaration of the Peoples ' Republic of China in 1949. But this line of thought is not the only factor which brought about an iron cast of historical consciousness in the Chinese psyche. The role of language within the Chinese family of languages, education and the general tendency of the Chinese state to veer towards autocracy are also examined. The motives which drive the Chinese Dream originate in the Chinese twentieth century (humiliation, Marxism, industrial development, wealth and power, among others) and these concerns are accordingly ongoing. After concluding that the Chinese Dream is likely to end in considerable disappointment for the West in that the Chinese are bound to reject Western values and priorities in favour of their own thinking (such as autocracy, reverence for authority and the importance of history in shaping their destiny), I move on to consider Allison's review of the Thucydides trap scenario within the context of the Peloponne-sian War (431-404 BCE). Despite criticism which has been levelled at this academic model, it remains valuable to analyse China's possible economic and great power trajectory into the 21st century. In the context of the Chinese Dream, I also make reference to Xi Jinping's Maoist embrace of hero worship, his renewed friendship with Putin's Russia and Xi's emphasis on the role of the Chinese Communist Party in pursuing the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) since its inception in 2013. Biden's recent visit to Asia in May 2022 in order to promote his Asia-Pacific Economic Framework to the United States ' remaining friends and allies in the area (such as Japan and India), as a counter to China's increasing economic influence in Asia and the Pacific Islands, is also considered. Russia's ongoing war in the Ukraine is an example of the complexity of international relations at a time when world power is transitioning from a system of unipolarity (where the United States is a sole superpower) to that of multi-polarity (where power is shared between the US, China and Russia). China's idiosyncratic approach to so-called "zero-Covid" and its impact on employment and immigration vis-à-vis Africa is also briefly highlighted. Against this background, I finally turn to a consideration of the possible implications of China's twentieth-century scramble for Africa continuing into the 21st century. A number of recent Chinese development projects are discussed as well as the narrative of the so-called debt trap diplomacy within the context of Africans' generally positive views regarding Chinese engagement. I conclude that China's role in Africa's economic prosperity in the 21st century is indeed nuanced. Not only are there a number of role-players vying for influence in Africa (notably Russia and the United States), but, from a Chinese perspective, Africa ranks very low on its list of priorities. On the whole, the Chinese influence on the African continent has been received positively, but caution must be advised as to what impact the Chinese tendency towards autocratic governance might have on the Chinese developmental trajectory in the 21st century.

Palavras-chave : China; great power ambitions; historical mindset; Chinese psyche; Chinese Dream"; fuqiang (wealth and power); poststructuralism; Africa; implications; positive influence; low Chinese priority; autocratic tendencies.

        · resumo em Africaner     · texto em Inglês     · Inglês ( pdf )


Creative Commons License Todo o conteúdo deste periódico, exceto onde está identificado, está licenciado sob uma Licença Creative Commons