What is the role of social capital and network-building in China’s foreign policy in Africa? Many studies on China’s rising power tend to focus on military spending, infrastructure projects, and investments in natural resource extractions. Although these elements are important, the success of Chinese foreign policy in Africa depends crucially on its investments in human and social capital. This talk examines China’s ‘soft power’ and increasing investments in building powerful professional and personal networks formed through professionalization training programs, scholarships, and other exchanges sponsored by the Chinese government for African recipients.
Lina Benabdallah is Assistant Professor at Wake Forest University. She is the author of Shaping the Future of Power: Knowledge Production and Network-Building in China-Africa Relations (University of Michigan Press, 2020). Her research has appeared in The Journal of International Relations and Development, Third World Quarterly, African Studies Quarterly, Project on Middle East Political Science, as well as in public facing outlets such as the Washington Post’s Monkey Cage and Foreign Policy.