The scholarship on Sino-African relations has been too pre-occupied with China’s behaviour and impact on Africa and paid little attention to the role played by African actors, contexts and processes of governance. This thesis addresses this deficiency through an examination of the interaction between Kenyan state and non-state actors in the relationship with China. In doing so, it focuses on how such interactive relation is mobilised and negotiated through Kenyan ‘agency’, and how it constitutes a means of building national capacity in domestic as well as foreign policy, paving the way for a less dependent and more sustainable developmental nation. The thesis adopts a state-society approach which combines macro (national)-, meso (sectoral)- and micro-(issue-specific) level dynamics within a single country case study. Such complex and differentiated design helps to reach a nuanced understanding of actor agendas and mobilisation strategies within specific systems of governance. The cases are grouped into three main sectors, i.e. trade, healthcare and education, cutting across trade and aid type of engagements between a variety of Chinese and Kenyan actors. Negotiations are mainly characterised by strategies of contestation and cooperation domestically and with the Chinese. Passivity, contrary to the mainstream literature, is more rarely observed. The thesis demonstrates that the factors that contribute to Kenya’s control of the relations with China should not be identified in the state’s aggregate power, or the sum of state’s resources, but rather are situated within the context and the structure of the specific negotiations. The ability to safeguard interests is then determined by the ability of Kenyan actors to guarantee conformity of specific negotiation processes to the prevailing system of norms and practices as understood and legitimised by Kenyans
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