China–Uganda relations

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China-Uganda relations
Map indicating locations of China and Uganda

China

Uganda

Relations between Uganda and the People's Republic of China were established in 1962.[1] Trade between the two nations totaled over $1 billion in 2017.[2] Additionally, Chinese companies have contributed significantly to the building of infrastructure in Uganda. China also owns about 20% of Uganda's debt, equivalent to about $1.6 billion. The Ugandan ambassador to China is Chrispus Kyonga.[3] The Chinese ambassador to Uganda is Zheng ZhuQiang.[4]

Diplomatic history[edit]

Since Uganda's independence in 1962, diplomatic relationships have existed between the two nations. China was one of the first nations to recognize the newly independent nation. In 1971, Uganda was one of 76 nations voting in favor of restoring UN membership to the Chinese government.[5] Following Yoweri Museveni's rise to power in 1986, the two nation's have developed closer ties. The two nations have signed multiple cultural cooperation agreements, exchanging student and medical teams. Relationships between the two nations have been strengthened by a policy of non-interference in political affairs. Following the passage of the Uganda Anti-Homosexuality Act, 2014, western criticism of the Ugandan government and Museveni's presidency increased. Many nations withdrew economic aid and support. China's policy of political non-involvement allowed them to take on the role of supplying aid and infrastructure to Uganda.

Economic relations[edit]

Trade between China and Uganda has also increased under Museveni's presidency. Even within the last 10 years, the amount of trade between the two nations has more than quadrupled, from around $230 million in 2008 to over $1 billion in 2018.[6] The majority of this trade is Chinese exports to Uganda, which account for about $850 million in trade. China's largest exports are machinery and electrical equipment. Uganda's major exports to China include many raw goods such as hides, oils, and seeds.[7]

Additionally, Uganda has emerged as a potential market for many Chinese businesses, both state-owned and private. These businesses include oil and construction, as well as smaller stores and factories for electronics, clothes, and other consumer goods.

Infrastructure and debt[edit]

China and Chinese companies have also contributed to many infrastructure projects in Uganda. Chinese construction companies have won contracts for many major infrastructure projects, such as Mandela stadium and the country's largest hydroelectric dam. More recently, Chinese companies are in charge of the construction of an express highway connecting the major city of Entebbe to the capital, Kampala. The Ugandan government also utilizes Chinese technology for small and large- scale agribusiness projects, with over 40 Chinese agricultural scientists having taken part in planning these projects in Uganda since 2012. [8]

China also supports infrastructure within Uganda through loans. Uganda currently has $1.6 billion in loans to China. These loans largely finance major infrastructure projects. These loans typically pay for Chinese contracting work on these mega-projects.

Public opinion in Uganda[edit]

Opinions vary in Uganda on the role China plays in the local economy. According to AfroBarometer data, 57% of Ugandans believe China has a positive influence on Uganda, compared to only 7% saying negative. [9] The largest positives of China's influence were China's investment in infrastructure, China's business investment, and the cost of Chinese products.[10] By far the largest source of negative opinion was the quality of Chinese products. [11] Public opinion of Chinese influence has improved in China since 2010. [12]

Ugandan business owners have expressed opposition to Chinese influence in the country. Shopkeepers and creators of local goods have difficulty competing with the price of Chinese exports. In addition, local construction companies introduced a bill that would force the national government to prioritize local construction companies in the completion of government projects. This bill was vetoed, with MPs citing the inability of Ugandan construction companies to handle the scale of large infrastructure projects. [13] Some Chinese business, particularly smaller private businesses, have also felt the effect of increased regulation and scrutiny from local government officials. [14]


Research on relations between the two nations and cultures found that the major sources of animosity between the two nations include China's state-capitalism model and Ugandans' experiences with Chinese shopkeepers and employers who may harbor racial bias. [15]

Incidents[edit]

In 2014, China sentenced two Ugandans to death for drug trafficking in Guangdong province. Although the Ugandan government claimed that the incidents did not impact diplomatic relationships between the two nations, many Ugandan citizens and MPs were angered by the perceived violation of sovereignty and human rights. [16]

In 2018, many Chinese businesses in Ugandan industrial parks were vandalized and robbed, prompting President Museveni to increase security presence in these regions.[17]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Obowona, Marios; Guloba, Madina (2007). "China-Africa economic relations" (PDF): 1. Retrieved 15 November 2018.
  2. ^ "Uganda Trade Overview" (Website). Atlas Media. Retrieved 17 November 2018.
  3. ^ Chrispus Kyonga
  4. ^ Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the People's Republic of China, Chinese Ambassadors to Uganda, [1], 驻乌干达历任大使, [2]
  5. ^ Obowona, Marios; Guloba, Madina (2007). "China-Africa economic relations" (PDF): 19–27. Retrieved 15 November 2018.
  6. ^ "Uganda Trade Overview" (Website). Atlas Media. Retrieved 17 November 2018.
  7. ^ "Uganda Trade Overview" (Website). Atlas Media. Retrieved 17 November 2018.
  8. ^ Lawther, Isaac (2017). "Why African countries are interested in building agricultural partnerships with China: lessons from Rwanda and Uganda". Third World Quarterly. 38 (10): 2312–2319. doi:10.1080/01436597.2017.1333889.
  9. ^ "R6(Uganda) China's Influence: Positive or Negative" (Website). AfroBarometer. Retrieved 11 November 2018.
  10. ^ "R6(Uganda) Positive Influence of China" (Website). AfroBarometer. Retrieved 11 November 2018.
  11. ^ "R6(Uganda) Negative Influence of China" (Website). AfroBarometer. Retrieved 11 November 2018.
  12. ^ "R6(Uganda) China's Influence: Positive or Negative" (Website). AfroBarometer. Retrieved 11 November 2018.
  13. ^ Mukasa, Francis (2018-07-30). "China's Uganda Road Construction Building Debt, Dependence". VOA News. Retrieved 2018-11-16.
  14. ^ Warmerdam, Ward; van Dijk, Meine (2016). "Chinese Private Enterprises in Kampala, Uganda". Journal of Asian and African Studies. 52 (6): 873–893. doi:10.1177/0021909615622351.
  15. ^ Chang, Jiang; Ren, Hailong (2015). "How native cultural values influence African journalists' perceptions of China: in-depth interviews with journalists of Baganda descent in Uganda". Chinese Journal of Communication. 9 (2): 189–205. doi:10.1080/17544750.2015.1094496.
  16. ^ Akumu, Patience (2014-07-26). "Ugandans begin to question the high price of the growing China-Africa pact". The Guardian. Retrieved 2015-11-13.
  17. ^ "Uganda Orders Military to Protect Chinese Businesses". BBC. 2018-11-15. Retrieved 2015-11-17.