'Africa for the Chinese'? Revisiting Bilateral Investment Treaties between African States and China for Corporate Accountability and Regulation
Posted: 11 Oct 2017
Date Written: September 7, 2017
In the 19th Century, Francis Galton (the "father of eugenics") made a case for framing British policy on Africa in terms of the replacement of Africans by the Chinese on the African continent. Many years down the road, the relationship between Africa and China has taken the form of expanded trade and economic relations, seeing a huge inflow of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in the direction of African states. This paper argues that it is important that businesses carried out as a consequence of this relationship adhere to standards of accountability, sustainability and responsibility, which are imperative for meaningful development on the African continent.
Framing the Sino-African economic relations in the context of sustainable development and corporate accountability demands a benchmark, and the Bilateral Investment Treaty (BIT) is adopted in this paper as that benchmark.
The paper goes on to conclude that while Sino-African BIT engagements do not show any clear exploitative agenda, it is necessary that Chinese investments on the continent take human rights considerations into account. This is because, absent these considerations, there may well be no real incentive for Chinese businesses to be accountable or to act responsibly in the host African states.
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