Chinese engagement in Africa with ‘no strings attached’ has been blamed for reducing the effectiveness of traditional actors’ policies of promoting democracy, human rights and good governance. Using the example of Angola and Ethiopia, the paper analyses how Chinese engagement influences the effectiveness of the European Commission’s policies to promote good governance.

While the paper argues that the EC’s policies of promoting good governance face considerable difficulties in both countries, the findings suggest that China’s activities have little to no immediate negative consequences for the EC’s policies of promoting good governance. Although the EC and China indeed have different objectives and set up different instruments of engagement, in practise their policies in Angola and Ethiopia have few points of contact and do not conflict directly, since they engage mostly in different policy fields.

Effects of Chinese policies for the effectiveness of the EC’s policies of promoting good governance therefore might not be the greatest challenge for the EC stemming from Chinese engagement in Africa. Rather, Chinese engagement reveals more clearly the gap between normative aspirations in European rhetoric on the one hand and the quality of concrete EC interventions on the other.

Empirical data on Chinese and European policies towards Ethiopia and Angola were collected during field trips to Ethiopia in October 2009 and December 2010 and to Angola in November 2009. Read the publication