Russia and China in Africa: Competition or Cooperation?

DOI: 10.20542/0131-2227-2020-64-4-60-69
A. Dikarev (, 
MGIMO University, 76, Vernadskogo Prosp., Moscow, 119454, Russian Federation


The article provides comparative analysis of political and economic activities of Russia and China in the African continent at the beginning of the 21st century. Drivers of modern processes of bilateral communication Russia–Africa and China–Africa are highlighted along with media and scholarly discourse of “expansion” and “colonialism”. Statistical data are grouped and compared according to traditional approach: bilateral trade; investments; credits and loans. It is evident that by quantitative indices in almost all spheres of economics (save for supply of weapons), Russia falls far behind China which is currently the main builder of various infrastructure objects in Africa. The basic principle of China–Africa cooperation can be formulated as “aid-to-resources exchange”. Chinese state-backed and private business regard the African infrastructure buildup as a means of access to rich mineral resources of the continent. Russia does not have an adequate demographic and financial background for deepening its involvement into the economic life of Africa. Cultural influence, rather strong in Soviet times, is also very limited in the modern “deideologised” political atmosphere. Therefore Russia is trying to substitute its relative economic weakness with bigger-scale involvement into military and political actions of some African regimes. Chinese expansion to Africa is primarily of economic character, Russia is preoccupied with political influence first of all. At the same time, the recent dynamics in Russian-African trade has shown a highly positive trend promising good prospects in the sphere of traditional low-technology products.


China, Russia, Africa, trade, Forums, investments, crediting, infrastructure, expansion, colonialism


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For citation:
Dikarev A. Russia and China in Africa: Competition or Cooperation?. Mirovaya ekonomika i mezhdunarodnye otnosheniya, 2020, vol. 64, No 4, pp. 60-69.

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