Date of Award

Winter 2018

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Political Science & Geography


Graduate Program in International Studies

Committee Director

Jesse T. Richman

Committee Member

David C. Earnest

Committee Member

Cathy Wu


The pace of Chinese investments in Africa accelerated after the 2000s as one of many consequences of China’s “going out” policy. The importance of Sino-African investment relationship has been signified by conveying large-scale tri-annual collective dialogue forum, named Forum on China Africa Cooperation (FOCAC), first in 2000. It is generally assumed that Africa needs China, mostly due to being recipient of Chinese investments, but what about the opposite and what would that mean for China? This dissertation looks at the bilateral relationship between China and Africa from the perspective of creating vulnerability for the investor party. Accordingly, the research questions of this study are: How can we measure the extent to which the external investor is vulnerably interdependent? To what extent is China vulnerably interdependent in Africa? The dissertation answers the first research question by using vulnerability interdependence theory and putting forth an index to measure the level of investor country’s vulnerability. The index of vulnerability interdependence has five dimensions –asset specificity, switching costs, ratification and compliance costs, proportionality, and issue linkages—which are represented in 17 questions. In order to answer the second research question, Chinese investments in three of its top five Sub-Saharan African trading partners are analyzed as a case study by using the vulnerability interdependence index.


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