in: Christof Hartmann / Nele Noesselt (eds.), China’s new role in African politics: from non-intervention towards stabilization?, London: Routledge, 164-179
This chapter explores the potential effect of China’s cooperation on African authoritarian regimes and states, using the case of Rwanda. First, we will discuss the interests of Chinese actors in engaging with Rwanda, and more specifically, to what extent statehood and regime type matter to Chinese actors. Second, we will analyze the interests of Rwandan actors in engaging with China. In particular, we will investigate to what extent and under what conditions Chinese engagement helps Rwanda’s regime survival and weakens or strengthens Rwanda’s statehood. Due to scarcity of resources, Rwanda’s elite professes a tangible and ambitious development-orientation. Yet, we argue, China’s engagement with Rwanda is driven by political, strategic, and aid-policy interests, whereas business interests do not play a prominent role. Rwanda’s economic and political aspirations, for their part, prevent the government from getting too close to Beijing, as that would increase the risk of being overlooked as a small actor. Rather, an independent foreign policy and an ability to pique China (without overly annoying it) seems crucial. China’s direct impact on regime survival thus is limited in the case of Rwanda.