China Going Global – in Africa

By improving evidence, building capacity and fostering joint actions for sustainable investment in Africa's natural resources, we promote China-Africa relations that benefit the economy, poor communities and the environment.


Lila Buckley, Senior researcher

The timber depot of a Chinese-owned timber concession licensed to operate in Nampula, Mozambique (Photo: Mike Goldwater)

Research rooted in grassroots fieldwork – both in Africa and China – is key to IIED's China-Africa work. We carry out research in the forests of the Congo Basin, rural farming communities in East Africa and the bustling markets in African capital cities.

In China, we work directly with policymakers, academics, NGO practitioners and journalists who are reshaping the policy framework for China's overseas engagement.

Our current work includes:

  • China-Africa agriculture engagement: Mapping Chinese agricultural aid, trade and investments in Africa, developing related case studies, supporting surveys of Chinese agriculture technology exchange with Africa, and building relationships with key stakeholders in China and Africa. See related publications here and here
  • China-Africa Forest Governance Project: Improving evidence, capacity and joint action for sustainable Chinese investment in Africa's forests.
  • Africa-China Informal Resources Trade research project: Examining the social and environmental implications of small-scale investments and trade by the Chinese (and others) in Africa's informal economy – specifically in agriculture, mining and timber trade in Eastern and South-east Africa. Read a backgrounder or watch a short video.
  • Research on Bilateral Investment Treaties in the China-Africa relationship: Exploring how bilateral investment treaties (BITs) feature in China’s economic diplomacy with Africa, and whether BITs actually influence investors’ decision-making. 

Our past research has included:


Chinese agriculture goes global: food security for all?, Lila Buckley (2012), IIED Briefing Paper

Recognising informality in the China–Africa natural resource trade, Xiaoxue Weng (2015), IIED Backgrounder

Chinese businesses in Africa. Perspectives on corporate social responsibility and the role of Chinese government policies, Xiaoxue Weng, Lila Buckley (Eds.) (2016), IIED Discussion Paper |  中文

Sustainability standards in China-Latin America trade and investment: A discussion, Emma Blackmore, Danning Li, Sara Casallas (2013), IIED | 中文


Research partners include:

In China:

In Africa: