This paper compares the developmental dynamics entailed by China’s engagement in the South American and African extractive sectors. It argues that China’s growth and investment have strengthened the position of resource-endowed countries in the international economy, revitalizing resource industries and improving terms of trade for commodities. Concurrently, the expansion of extractive activities has brought about increased environmental and economic sustainability challenges. Divergences between the African and South American cases are best observed at the national levels, where China’s non-interventionist approach has different developmental implications depending on the ongoing internal trends of host countries. Reasons that explain the differences between South America and Africa’s assimilation of Chinese investment can be sought in i) South America’s relatively stable democratic political environments, ii) South America’s strong civil societies, iii) the role of states in leading development in South America.
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