United States-China competition in sub-Saharan Africa: an analysis of the Soft Power strategies

Auteur Stefano ARAÚJO DA COSTA
Directeur /trice Prof. Thomas Sattler
Co-directeur(s) /trice(s) Prof. Simone Dietrich
Résumé de la thèse

Between 2011 and 2017 the amount of foreign aid allocated by the United States remained stable at around USD10.09 billion. However, Chinese aid flows rose significantly from USD10.4 billion to USD19.8 billion in 2017. Looking at statements made by the African political elite, we see that some of them appreciate the fact that China gives development aid without discussing governance reforms. Data from the Afrobarometer of 2016 showed that 63% of Africans say China’s influence is positive, while the US development model is considered the best. How can we explain the growth in Chinese foreign aid allocations? How can we explain that some members of the African political elite and public appreciate Chinese foreign aid more than US assistance or vice-versa? I argue that both donors use foreign aid allocations to try to persuade foreign public and elites, deploying competing “soft power” strategies. In my PhD Thesis, I will analyze the effects of these strategies in sub-Saharan Africa. My thesis makes a valuable contribution to the literature on soft power competition and the political economy of foreign aid by offering new insights into the issue of soft power effectiveness and the effects of different foreign policy strategies on the competition between China and the US. My research question is: How does the competition between China and the US affect the elite and public opinion in Africa from a soft power perspective? To test the effects of the competing soft power strategies I will run an original survey experiment for the public perception and semi-structured interviews with the elite. The overall analytical and methodological approach will employ a mixed-methods approach (quantitative and qualitative).

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URL https://www.unige.ch/gsi/fr/presentation/enseignants/cer/stefano-araujo-da-costa