Chinese Resources-for-Infrastructure (R4I) Swaps: An Escape from the Resource Curse
This paper discusses whether resources-for-infrastructure (R4I) swaps employed by the Chinese government and companies reduce or increase the risk that a resource-rich country will fall prey to the resource curse. To answer this question the paper is divided into 4 areas of discussions. First, a description of the resource curse is provided. Four key mechanisms through which the resource curse has an impact on resource-rich states are identified, as well as four corresponding policy responses. Second, China’s growing engagement in Africa’s natural resource sector is described, with particular emphasis on the R4I model of engagement. Third, R4I swaps are contextualised within the political economy in which they are embedded. This enables a better understanding of the economic and political relevance and impact of R4I swaps. Finally, the effect of R4I swaps on the four identified mechanisms of the resource curse is analysed, followed by a discussion of the effect on policy responses.