Date of Thesis



The rise of China is among the most discussed and watched topics in the fields of African Studies and International Relations. One area of particularly noticeable and rapid expansion is in Africa. This thesis aims to answer the question of what impact Chinese involvement is having on the population of Tanzania and to what extent is it beneficial to and what extent detrimental to the nation. I do so by examining the impact of Chinese investment from three perspectives: 1) case studies from Tanzania in regard to local communities and individual's perspectives; 2) views of Chinese workers in Tanzania; and 3) state rhetoric and relations from both Tanzania and China. The relationships China has developed in Eastern Africa, the Indian Ocean littoral and inland, has a history many centuries old, but in terms of the post-Communist shifts in China and the post-socialist Ujamaa state of Nyerere, the economic, diplomatic, and social relationships being built are relatively recent events (1990s) and thus are new subjects of scholarly study, which remain under-researched. Likewise US aid regimes have acquired more attention in the scholarship to date than Chinese investment or aid in Tanzania specifically. While much of the research focuses on macro level influences of Chinese investment, this thesis employs perspectives from local communities and workers whose lives have been directly and indirectly impacted by Chinese investments in Tanzania. Based on qualitative and quantitative evidence collected in Tanzania, I argue that Chinese investment in Tanzania has helped many local people by increasing mobility and business opportunities with inexpensive infrastructure from means of transportation and communications technologies. However, in exchange for affordability and fast delivery of Chinese products that represent one level of investment, local communities in Tanzania very often purchase low quality products that consistently do not last and may have other less beneficial social, health, or economic consequences. Chinese investors as well as local communities in Tanzania are interested in the short-term benefit and opportunities of the infrastructure and consumer goods imported from China to Tanzania, but may not always be prioritizing all of the negative long-term impacts, support, and improvement. Moreover, the potential for dependency of Tanzania on Chinese capital inputs would likely ultimately undermine the capability of the Tanzanian state to control the allocation of investment and plan its economic growth independently, strategically, and in its own interests. While China is very clear that its relationships in Africa are not exploitative in a colonial sense, some analysts accuse China of exploitation for lack of interest in social issues, health, or education. These are heavily debated critiques within Tanzania and one's that both the Tanzanian and Chinese governments defend against. For the governments the short-term benefits seem to be justified in subtle ways as a means that will lead to longer-term improvements despite the negative consequences of lower quality imports and infrastructure.


China, Tanzania, investment, friendship, Dar es Salaam, Arusha, Tanga, Mbulu

Access Type

Honors Thesis

Degree Type

Bachelor of Arts


International Relations

First Advisor

Catherine Cymone Fourshey