The determinants of Sub-Saharan African attitudes towards Chinese FDI

Publication Date04 Feb 2019
AuthorPatrick Larue
SubjectEconomics,International economics
The determinants of Sub-Saharan
African attitudes towards
Chinese FDI
Patrick Larue
Department of Political Science, University of Texas at Dallas, Richardson,
Texas, USA
Purpose The purpose of this paper is to understand the reasons why individuals in Sub-Saharan African
countries may be more supportive or more opposed to rising foreign direct investment (FDI) from China. As
Chinese FDI continues to increase throughout Africa, African populations are consistently found to be supportive,
sceptical or at time hostile. Previous literature has shown that the attitudes of individuals towards different classes
of rights protections is a signicant predictor of individual attitudes. This paper explores this question in greater
detail, providing academics and policymakers insight into how individual attitudes are derived.
Design/methodology/approach This paper useslarge-N statistical methods (ordered logit regression)
aimed at accurately unpacking therelationship between individuals afnity towards rights protections and
attitudes towards Chinese FDI. The paper uses over 40,000 responses from 36 countries to explain this
relationship,where updated survey questions more accuratelyaddress the key questions of interest.
Findings Based on updated survey data,the results of this paper show that an individualsafnity for a
particularclass of rights protection is not a signicant predictorof attitudes towards Chinese FDI.
Originality/value The value of this paper is in its contradictionto the previous literature. While others
have examined this very question, academics have been limited due to the marginally relevant questions
found in survey instruments.With updated questions in the newest round of Afrobarometersurveys that are
more appropriate given this specic research question, this paper provides a new conclusion to a question
that is only becomingmore pressing in today's global economic climate.
Keywords China, Public opinion
Paper type Research paper
1. Introduction
In recent years, the inow of Chinese foreign directinvestment (FDI) in Sub-Saharan Africa
(SSA) has been increasing substantially, both in terms of aggregateamounts and relative to
the FDI inows of other investing nations (Broadman,2006;Kaplinsky and Messner, 2008).
A number of articles discuss the potential effects of these FDI inows, the challenges of
substantial FDI inow, and the overallsignicance both on recipient states and in a broader
global perspective (Cheung et al., 2012;Ajayi, 2008;Moran et al.,2005;Bwalya, 2006).
However, much of the literature ignores the individual people within these SSA countries,
and their support (or not) of Chinese FDI, and why. This paper investigates that
phenomenon, by analysing public attitudes towards Chinese FDI in SSA. There are many
potential implications regarding foreign investment in Africa, with one key impact being
economic/infrastructure development and democratization. Overall public support for
Chinese FDI, even relative to other countries may be inuenced by attitudes about Chinese
politics, American politics and personal afnity for those models of governance. However,
the literature up until this point has largely been unable to address these questions largely
because of the lack of available data on SSA attitudes specically related to FDI inows of
Journalof Chinese Economic and
ForeignTrade Studies
Vol.12 No. 1, 2019
pp. 40-54
© Emerald Publishing Limited
DOI 10.1108/JCEFTS-07-2018-0025
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