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The new resource politics: can Australia and South Africa accommodate China?



    1. Winthrop Professor of Political Science and International Studies at the University of Western Australia (UWA).
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    1. Associate Professor of International Political Economy at the University of Cape Town's Graduate School of Business.
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    1. Professor of International Relations at the School of International Studies at Peking University.
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    • The authors of this research acknowledge the support of the EU FP7 large-scale integrated research project GR:EEN—Global re-ordering: evolution through European networks (European Commission Project No. 266809).


The material transformation of the Chinese economy is forcing a concomitant process of political adjustment—and not just in China. Other states are being forced to accommodate the ‘rise of China’. In this context, this article first presents a comparative analysis of China's impact on two countries, Australia and South Africa, which have little in common other than a wealth of natural resources and a possible status as middle powers; this is a particularly useful exercise because these states are geographically distant and have very different political structures and general developmental histories. Second, the authors consider how China's bilateral ties look from a Chinese perspective in these two very different relationships. Such an analysis serves as a reminder that resource dependency is a two-way street. The article argues that underlying material realities are constraining and to some extent determining the domestic and foreign policies of three very different states that otherwise have little in common.