Discontinuities and Continuities in Kenya-China Foreign Aid Relations: 1963 – 2015
Sitienei, Kipngeno, Hillary
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This study examines the (dis)continuities in Kenya-China foreign aid relations between 1963 to 2015. The enhanced Kenya-China economic, political, and social engagement is arguably the most momentous development in Kenya presently, despite the fact that since independence, Western powers have been Kenya’s main development partners. Chinese Foreign aid to Kenya currently is among the largest bilateral aid sources. Despite the growing awareness of the wider phenomenon, there is little specific literature that addresses this area. Therefore, this study examined the trends in Kenya-China foreign aid relations, interrogates the defining features of this partnership, examines the sameness and differences in Kenya-China foreign aid relations over time, and at the contribution of Chinese foreign aid to Kenya’s economic progress. The study was guided by three objectives that aimed at tracing the development of Kenya-China relations since Kenya’s independence. The study briefly examined Kenya-China contacts during the pre-colonial, colonial period and the post-colonial period. The study period was from 1963 when Kenya attained its independence to early 2015. This study adopted the qualitative approach in the analysis of both primary and secondary data consulted. Sampling was done based on a purposive technique and snow balling to reach out the informants who were sourced for primary data. The data from the two sources were corroborated for authenticity and validity. Data analysis was done through critical textual analysis, evaluation and comparison of collected and existing information. The study used realism and rational choice theories. The two theories were used in the interpretation of established primary and secondary data. The study found that there has been changing trends (discontinuities and continuities) on Kenya-China foreign aid relations dictated by internal and external political developments under different regimes. During the first regime, Kenya-China partnership was not as enhanced as compared to later regimes. There has been gradual developments of foreign aid relationships between Kenya and China and by early 2015, the relationship had reached a heightened state. Chinese aid to Kenya has both blessings and risks depending on which sector the aid has impact on. The findings are important to, among other stakeholders, the government in making and managing its foreign policy. The study also generally adds to existing literature on international relations and diplomacy and relations between Kenya and China in particular.