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Chinese Multilateralism and its Impact on Environmental and Democratic Governance in Africa and Latin America

How does Chinese economic engagement influence environmental and democratic governance in Africa and Latin America?

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Photo: FOCAC Summit | Beijing, 4 September 2018, by Paul Kagame (Flickr).

About the project

Short name: MultiChina

The rise of China continues to shape the global order in many ways. One way is by changing the conditions of democratic and environmental governance, particularly in low-income countries.

This project studies how the scaling up of Chinese economic engagement influences democratic and natural resources governance in Africa and Latin America. How are the principles of cooperation between China and individual countries shaped and influenced? And how and to what extent are the principles of international organization and cooperation between groups of countries affected?

In order to respond to these questions, our focus is to study Chinese influence in Chile, Venezuela, Zimbabwe and Kenya. These cases have been selected based on differences in state capacity and the strength of democratic institutions. In addition, we will study the effects of Chinese engagement in four very different international organizational contexts. While two of these have been key institutions for international cooperation for several decades (the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) and the United Nations Department for Economic and Social Affairs, UNDESA), CELAC-China Forum and Forum for China and Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) are newer organizations established to strengthen the relationship between China and Latin America and Africa, respectively.


Our primary objective is to explain the impact of the combined effect of Chinese bilateral and multilateral initiatives on norms of democratic and natural resource governance in Africa and Latin America.

Our secondary objectives are to:

  1. Describe China’s means to coordinate bilateral and multilateral, state and business initiatives
  2. Understand how Chinese initiatives influence multilateral norms in Africa and Latin America
  3. Analyze the conditions under which Chinese engagement influences elite composition, norms and attitudes
  4. Establish a solid environment for the study of implications of a Sino-centric multilateralism at SUM (UiO)
  5. Strengthen research collaboration between SUM (UiO), CIBE-UIBE and SCOT-UIBE (Beijing)
  6. Build a shared language for interpretation and reciprocal understanding between Norway-China
  7. Expand dialogue with stakeholders influencing China’s global outreach
  8. Strengthen Norway’s knowledge base to navigate a new international institutional context


We study Chinese influence through in-depth interviews with elites in China and in case countries and organizations, and by tracing the processes of Chinese engagement from initiation of cooperation projects to final completion. The results of this project will contribute to finding answers to pressing issues in global governance including: How will the large Chinese investment and lending program, the Belt and Road Initiative, influence the achievement of global goals on environment and development? To what extent is the increasing Chinese influence on global politics weakening democracies?


    CHINOR Programme, The Research Council of Norway.

    News and media



    • Ulrikke Bryn Wethal (2020). Exploring the multiscalar politics of construction: Agency and the integration of Mozambican actors in Chinese-led construction projects in Mozambique.
    • Benedicte Bull (2020). Latin-Amerika: Fra pandemi til pandaøkonomi. Dagsavisen.  ISSN 1503-2892.
    • Benedicte Bull (2020). Trump vil bryte uskreven regel, lanserer ultra-konservativ kandidat. Bistandsaktuelt.  ISSN 1501-0201.
    • Benedicte Bull & Mariano Aguirre (2020). Norge settes på harde prøver i spillet om Latin-Amerika. Aftenposten (morgenutg. : trykt utg.).  ISSN 0804-3116.

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    Published Aug. 7, 2020 12:13 PM - Last modified Mar. 29, 2021 9:14 AM