China in Africa: A Partner or Patron Ethiopia in Focus

Gashaw Ayferam Endaylalu


This study examined Africa-china relation by taking the post-1991 Sino-Ethiopia relations as a case study, in light of patron-client relationship. Methodologically, the study employed qualitative research methodological approach and case study research design. Accordingly, the study has used secondary source of data collected from books, journal articles, government reports and other pertinent internet sources. Given the data gathered are qualitative; the study employed qualitative data analysis techniques specifically document and discourse analysis. The findings of the study shows that at the present moment, China is regarded as development partner of Ethiopia and other African countries; however there is a sign of a patron-client relation between African ruling elites and China. Thus, Chinese role in Ethiopia and other African countries should not be treated in terms of the rhetoric ‘altruistic’ principles alone invoked by African ruling elite and Chinese. In this regard, the very China growing presence in Ethiopia should be viewed in light of Ethiopia people’s interest, aspiration and development rather than in terms of party-to-party relations and aid that comes from China. It will be ‘naïve’ to negate the positive role of China in Ethiopia in terms of its involvement in various sectors, building of infrastructures and various projects, growing trade relations, investment and aid; but we should examine whether Chinese presence in Ethiopia as elsewhere in Africa is as a means to certain ends or an end in itself. This will depends on the reality and our own interpretation; if the reality is that Chinese growing presence in Africa further exacerbates the intra-inequality and if Chinese aid is being used to further consolidate life presidency and the power of the ruling elite, then it is possible to situate China African relations as a patron-client. Though it seems too difficult to deny the rhetoric of strategic partnership, mutual benefit, win-win cooperation, China-Africa relations is a kind of asymmetrical relationship. Thus, in the contemporary Ethio-China relations in particular and China-Africa relations in general, there is a need on the part of Africans to reconsider their relations with China. The undeniable fact is that there is a manifestation of patronage and ‘clientelism’ in contemporary Africa-China relations indirectly. Thus, African countries should have a countering Strategy of patronage and clientelism’. Falling to do so would mean blessing ‘clientelism’.

Keywords: Patron-client, development partner, China, Africa, Ethiopia

Full Text: PDF
Download the IISTE publication guideline!

To list your conference here. Please contact the administrator of this platform.

Paper submission email:

ISSN 2409-6938

Please add our address "" into your email contact list.

This journal follows ISO 9001 management standard and licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.

Copyright ©