China and the Developing World

In another in his excellent series of book reviews, Kosmas Tsokhas examines a collection, China Steps Out: Beijing’s Major Power Engagement with the Developing World, edited by Joshua Eisenman and Eric Heginbotham and published by Routledge in 2018.

China Steps Out is said to be useful as it “cautions us not to fall into one-sided assessments of how economic relations with the developing world have turned out.” Tsokhas observes that at “a macro level, the pluses and minuses of China’s impact on developing economies will have to await econometric analysis as to whether there has been unequal exchange…”. Such an analysis, he says, “would assist with an explanation of why China’s provision of relief to financially stressed developing states has created an impression that the degree of their dependence has been going up and going down at the same time.”

Meanwhile, at a micro level, while the ups and downs of the “Chinese economy have affected the rates of return on Chinese FDI in developing economies,” Tsokhas suggests that  assessments of the conduct of Chinese SOEs and private companies will need to “go beyond Eisenman and Heginbotham’s view that Chinese extraction of monopoly rents from infrastructure, exploitative and gendered labour practices, collusion with political corruption and state violence, and degradation of the natural environment have been no better and no worse than what western corporations have done (x–xi).”

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