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date: 05 June 2020

Abstract and Keywords

In the past few decades, Kenya has benefitted considerably from its improved relations with China. Chinese investments in infrastructure, education, and ICT have opened up greater opportunities for development. Moreover, the availability of diverse and affordable goods has enabled many Kenyans to engage in more commercial activities. This economics-driven diplomacy has been shaped by Kenyan and Chinese political leaders, shifts in the structure of the international system after the Cold War, and the evolving interests of both countries. However, Kenya’s diplomacy is based on a weak knowledge base, as few Kenyan policy makers speak Mandarin and understand China’s diplomatic history. Moreover, China’s investment patterns, which differ from those of Kenya’s traditional Western partners, could negatively impact on Kenya’s commercial domination of eastern Africa. Thus, while Kenya–China relations have promoted some of Kenya’s policy objectives, they also contain the potential to undermine some of Kenya’s other long-range goals.

Keywords: foreign relations, China, legitimacy, identity, international structural forces

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