published on Democratization 18 March 2015
The rise of China in Africa is often described as a major challenge to the United States (US) and the European Union (EU) democracy promotion policies. China is accused of providing important volumes of loans, development aid, trade and investments without “political strings” attached, thereby undermining the US and the EU's possibilities to set material incentives for reforms. This article investigates Ethiopia and Angola as two cases where one would expect that the growing presence of China has made it more difficult for the EU and US to support reforms. Empirical findings presented in this article go against this argument. In both countries, the EU and the US face substantial difficulties to make the respective government address governance issues. However, the presence of China has not made it more difficult for the US and the EU to implement their strategies. Instead the empirical analysis suggests that domestic factors in Ethiopia and Angola, notably the level of challenge to regime survival both governments face, influence both governments’ willingness to engage with the EU and US.