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China's Presence in Rwanda and Africa, through the Lens of the Product Life Cycle Theory


Africa has been, for centuries, stereotypically represented as the continent of "failed" states. Throughout history, more powerful nations have conquered, colonized and depleted the continent of its precious natural and human resources. Under the headings of "civilizing" and "enlightening" European powers took advantage of the African people by force. Today, some claim that China, as the up and coming super-power in the world, is taking its turn as a hegemon in Africa in order to develop its own economy. This paper examines the literature and research on the subject of China as the next colonizer in Africa. It compares this literature to that which argues that China's involvement in Africa actually benefits African economies. It examines the historic evidence documenting the reasons why many argue for China's "hegemonic" new role, by using Rwanda's history with colonialism and its genocide as a case study. I discuss both the negative and positive effects of China's investments in Africa today, and support the claim that African economies, especially in poorer countries such as Rwanda, will develop and be relatively better off with Chinese investments based on The Product Life Cycle Theory. The Product Life Cycle Theory predicts that as countries develop, they transfer their mature industries onto lesser developed countries which focus primarily on producing basic goods for subsistence. As lesser developed countries receive mature industries, they begin to increase their skilled labor force, education and develop more in technology production rather than primary products. China went through these stages of development by receiving mature industries from superpowers like the U.S. at one point and is now in the beginning stages of transferring its mature industries to lesser developed countries in Africa as it races to become the next superpower in the world.

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