Dealing with Political-Economic Diversity in the Developing World

Article
Author(s): 
Frans-Paul van der Putten
Publication date: 
June 2012

China’s relations with countries in the developing world – beyond its immediate neighbours – constitute a relatively new and rapidly evolving phenomenon. As an area of research, China’s approach to developing countries is still in an early phase. This does not mean that little has yet been published on this topic. Chinese relations with Africa, the Middle East, Latin America and the Caribbean, and the Pacific islands have attracted quite a lot of media and scholarly attention – already during the Cold War, but especially thereafter. This applies in particular to Africa. Despite the widespread attention, it remains difficult to identify the long-term elements that characterise the relationship between China and the developing world. An important reason for this is that China is still trying to find its way as a global power. Its identity and role in the international system remain far from settled. Moreover, the developing world is a highly diverse and extensive part of the international system and many developing countries are themselves changing fast. What makes the relationship even more complicated is that China itself is both a global power and a part of the developing world.