The Impact of Kenya-China Economic Partnership on Kenya's Foreign Relations (2003-2012)
Gakuya, Ruth N.
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China has shown increased interest in the African continent particularly since the end of the cold war. The key driver of China's interest in the continent is the search for raw materials to meet growing demand at home, as a market for her products, as well as a source of energy security .In Kenya, Chinese presence has increased significantly since a new government came into power in 2002 led by the now retired President Mwai Kibaki. Large scale infrastructural development projects have been undertaken and completed. Regardless of this, Kenya continues to co-operate with, and to rely on her traditional donors for funding and trade. This research attempts to assess this growing significance of China as a donor, financier and trade partner in Kenya's economic development on Kenya's foreign relations, and in particular with traditional donors, that is, the United States(US),United Kingdom(UK),Germany, and Japan. The foreign policy of a country is given as "combination of aims and interests pursued and defended by a given state and its ruling class in its relations with other states, and the methods and means used by it for the achievement and defusing of these purposes and interests". The study establishes that Kenya's foreign policy has changed through the three transitions the country has been through, that is under presidents Kenyatta, Moi, and Kibaki, and that the foreign policy focus under each president has determined the key areas that the country has focused in for development. In President Kibaki's reign, the economic pillar of Kenya's foreign policy has been central to Kenya's foreign relations, with focus being on diversifying sources of development funding to include new economic partners, notably the adoption of the "Look East" policy in foreign relations. This has led to China increasing in significance as a development partner, and a source of funding for large scale infrastructural development projects in Kenya. The coming in of a new government after the March 4th 2013 general elections further points to a reinvigorated interest to strengthen continued ties with the east, particularly China, with economic diplomacy being the key focus of Kenya's foreign relations. An analysis of trade and aid figures between Kenya, China, United Kingdom, United States, Britain and Japan concludes that China has gained significance as a trade partner for Kenya as evidenced by the fact that China is now the largest source of imports in Kenya. By contrast, the United Kingdom is the largest export market for Kenya, followed by the United States while Kenya's shares of exports to China are the least. An analysis of aid figures presents the United States as the largest bilateral donor to Kenya, and although China's aid has been on the increase, and significantly so in infrastructural and communications sectors, Kenya still is heavily reliant on her bilateral donors for funding. China's funding is notably in the infrastructural development and telecommunications sector. The study concludes that the growing relationship between Kenya and China has therefore not affected the significance of the United States, United Kingdom, Japan and Germany, both as sources of funding and as trade partners for Kenya.