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Includes bibliographical references. The last decade has seen an exponential increase in Chinese political and economic engagement with Africa. This paper examines this recent and dramatic growth through a country-level analysis of economic relations between China and two African case countries, South Africa and Angola, with a focus on bilateral trade patterns and their economic implications for these countries. Through these examinations, this study also seeks to interrogate two broad perspectives that have emerged in recent years regarding the Chinese presence in Africa, one viewing China as a positive influence and a committed development partner, and the other seeing China as an economic competitor that is undermining African prospects for development. The study concludes that the effects of Angola's and South Africa's increased engagement with China are mixed, and that simplistic characterizations of China as a "partner" or "competitor" in Africa fail to capture the nuances of this complexity. Relations with China carry the potential to be both beneficial and detrimental to these countries in the future, and the extent to which they will positively contribute to continued economic development in Angola and South Africa will depend on multiple factors.
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