Publications of Chris Alden
China’s exceptionalism and the challenges of delivering difference in Africa
This article explores the notion of ‘China’s exceptionalism’ in Africa, a prominent feature in Beijing’s current continental and bilateral engagement. ‘China’s exceptionalism’ is understood as a normative modality of engagement that seeks to structure relations such that, though they may remain asymmetrical in economic content they are nonetheless characterised as equal in terms of recognition of economic gains and political standing (mutual respect and political equality). This article considers the burden that the central Chinese government has assumed through its self-construction and mobilisation of a position of exceptionalism and, concurrently, the imperatives that flow from such rhetorical claims of distinctiveness in terms of demonstrating and delivering difference as a means to sustain the unity and coherence of these rhetorical commitments.