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Foreign Relations - Africa

  • China-Angola Relations
  • China-Benin Relations
  • China-Botswana Relations
  • China-Burkina Faso Relations
  • China-Burundi Relations
  • China-Cameroon Relations
  • China-Cabo Verde Relations
  • China-CAR Relations
  • China-Chad Relations
  • China-Comoros Relations
  • China-Congo, Dem. Republic Relations
  • China-Congo, Republic of the Relations
  • China-Djibouti Relations
  • China-Equatorial Guinea Relations
  • China-Eritrea Relations
  • China-Ethiopian Relations
  • China-Gambia Relations
  • China-Ghana Relations
  • China-Guinea Relations
  • China-Guinea-Bissau Relations
  • China-Ivory Coast Relations
  • China-Kenya Relations
  • China-Lesotho Relations
  • China-Liberia Relations
  • China-Madagascar Relations
  • China-Malawi Relations
  • China-Mali Relations
  • China-Mauritania Relations
  • China-Mauritius Relations
  • China-Mozambique Relations
  • China-Namibia Relations
  • China-Niger Relations
  • China-Nigeria Relations
  • China-Rwanda Relations
  • China-Sao Tome and Principe Relations
  • China-Senegal Relations
  • China-Seychelles Relations
  • China-Sierra Leone Relations
  • China-Somalia Relations
  • China-South Africa Relations
  • China-South Sudan Relations
  • China-Sudan Relations
  • China-eSwatini Swaziland Relations
  • China-Tanzania Relations
  • China-Togo Relations
  • China-Uganda Relations
  • China-West Sahara Relations
  • China-Zambia Relations
  • China-Zimbabwe Relations
  • On 26 November 2021, China's State Council Information Office issued the white paper titled "China and Africa in the New Era: A Partnership of Equals." Developing solidarity and cooperation with African countries has been the cornerstone of China's foreign policy. President Xi Jinping put forward the principles of China's Africa policy -- sincerity, real results, amity and good faith, and pursuing the greater good and shared interests, charting the course for China's cooperation with Africa, and providing the fundamental guidelines. He and African leaders unanimously decided at the Forum on China-Africa Co-operation (FOCAC) that the two sides would work to build an even stronger China-Africa community, advance cooperation under the Belt and Road Initiative, establishing a new milestone in China-Africa relations.

    In 2018 China announced that it follows a "five-nos" approach in its relations with Africa: no interference in African countries' pursuit of development paths that fit their national conditions; no interference in African countries' internal affairs; no imposition of China's will on African countries; no attachment of political strings to assistance to Africa; and no seeking of selfish political gains in investment and financing cooperation with Africa.

    In the early 1960s the loose surveillance over foreigners and the absence of restrictions on their activities in a number of African countries enabled the Chinese to promote dissident groups working against some of the Black African regimes whose revolutionary credentials Peking found wanting. Chou En-Lai gave expression ]to this policy at the end of an African tour in 1964, when he declared “Africa is ripe for revolution today”. This was disturbing news for the new Black national leaders, who thought their revolutions had already occurred.

    In the early 1960s the Chinese extended occasional financial aid to a half-dozen national liberation groups. Like other supporters of African liberation, however, the Chinese found these groups to be difficult to deal with and, with few exceptions, politically unreliable and militarily feckless. As a result, Peking gradually adopted a tougher, more selective approach. Financial aid has dwindled, and the Chinese have concentrated on providing instructors for guerrilla training camps, supplying modest quantities of arms, and accepting small selected groups for training in China.

    During this period China's ill-disguised support to radical dissidents in Kenya, Uganda, Zanzibar, Senegal, Cameroon, and Congo (Kinshasa) had a disastrous impact on China's African relations: several regimes broke off relations and ousted the Chinese, while others -- even among the more radically anti-Western states -- developed an abiding distrust of Chinese Communist intentions.

    After 1965 such activity rapidly diminished -- in part due to Peking's recognition that revolution was not about to sweep across the African continent, and in part because China's leaders were preoccupied with events at home.

    By the 1970s Peking was showing a renewed interest in Black Africa. The Chinese were again offering aid, bidding for diplomatic recognition, and throwing lavish receptions for visiting African delegations. Their initiative suggests that China's leaders attached considerable importance to their relations with Sub-Saharan Africa -- if not for its intrinsic worth (if you “win” Black Africa, what have you won?), then as a place where easy points can be made in pursuit of larger objectives lying outside Africa.

    One purpose of Chinese activity in Africa was to affirm the regime's revolutionary image at home and abroad. In Black Africa, Peking's call for revolutionary struggle against colonialism and imperialism could be made credible with direct action: the arming and training of national liberation groups, support to those new regimes deemed truly revolutionary, and aid to political dissidents in “reactionary” Black African states. Such a radical and uncompromising program distinguished Peking's policy toward revolution from the more moderate “revisionist” line taken by Moscow. Initially the Chinese were supporting subversive action against some of the regimes that the Russians were courting, including Kenya, Ethiopia, Cameroon, and Uganda, among others.

    Closely related to China's revolutionary self-image was its use of Black Africa as a safe and fruitful ground on which to arouse hostility toward the US and the USSR. Peking consistently sought to identify these two powers as Africa's main enemies, together conspiring to prevent the total liberation of Africa. China's African friends were urged to shake off their imperialist fetters, repulse American and Soviet attempts to subvert their revolutionary gains, and get on with the revolution.

    In addition the Chinese challenged the Soviet model of economic development as being unsuited to African conditions. Peking's leaders thus measured their success in Black Africa partially in terms of US and Soviet reverses. When a US firm was nationalized, or when an African leader adopted Maoist slogans, it brought joy to the People's Palace; for these were seen as small but significant gains in a protracted struggle to reduce the global clout of the two super powers and to bring to China the international respect and stature to which it feels entitled.

    China's failure to become the dominant patron of African liberation movements was due in large part to the independent character of these movements. Although most of the major groups are avowedly pro-socialist, and many of their leaders given to Marxist slogans, they were first of all national movements: foreign support was required, but foreign domination was rejected. They thus sought and received assistance from a variety of sources, including the USSR, Eastern and Western Europe, Cuba, and the African Liberation Committee of the OAU, as well as from China. This independent attitude was compatible with China's public line that it rejects “great power chauvinism”, as well as with its apparent unwillingness to undertake large-scale support and its limited capabilities for doing so. Beijing had long supported Zimbabwean president Robert Mugabe despite claims of rampant corruption and repression committed by his government. Speaking December 04, 2015 after Chinese president Xi Jinping at the China-Africa summit in Johannesburg, Mugabe countered the notion that China is a neocolonialist that is draining Africa of its natural resources: “Here is a man representing a country once called poor, a country which was never our colonizer. He is doing to us what we expected those who colonized us yesterday to do… We will say he is a God-sent person.”

    At 92, the veteran leader's physical and mental faculties have evidently waned with the result that Mugabe had been guilty of the kind of errors of judgement that threatened to wipe away the remaining positive vestiges of what has been a problematic legacy since he rose to power in 1980.

    In November 2015 China’s Commerce Ministry caused a stir when it publicly admitted that Chinese investments to Africa had fallen by 40 percent in the first half of this year. Some saw the sharp decline as a sign of the broader impact of China's slowing economy. Others, however, say it is more related to Beijing's changing approach to investments overseas.

    China, Africa’s largest trading partner, has had ties to the continent dating back centuries and has been aggressively working to fortify them in recent years. China’s footprint in Africa is huge. The 20-story African Union tower (in Addis Ababa, the capital city of Ethiopia) which Beijing donated to the continental group at a cost of $200-million is a testament to the size of Beijing’s ambition.

    Corruption and mismanagement are constant concerns. Many large investments were riddled with corruption, and were preferred by African dictators as a way to line their pockets while avoiding interference.

    Large numbers of Chinese firms are already active in Africa, but the earlier uncritical African embrace of Chinese economic engagement has evolved into a more "normal" relationship in which friction over issues such as trade deficits, job losses, and compliance with environmental and labor laws has become more commonplace.

    China counts on decades of close political ties with African governments and its surge in aid, trade, and investment ties with the continent to secure its economic interests in access to African natural resources and markets and its political interests in a large bloc of countries that will support China in international fora. That said, Beijing understands that the inevitable frictions resulting from a more intense economic relationship mean it can no longer take for granted a positive reputation in Africa.

    A number of Chinese officials and scholars acknowledge that China's engagement with Africa has not been entirely positive. Responding to growing criticism of China's economic engagement with Africa, the government encouraged think tanks to research and report on this image problem in the months leading up to the 2008 Summer Olympics. Reviews of African press and NGOs revealed complaints and criticisms directed at Chinese companies (mostly smaller firms new to Africa) for exporting low-quality goods to Africa, paying African workers low wages, hiring few local workers, and polluting the local environment. China's efforts to improve corporate behavior began in earnest in 2007, when President Hu pressed Chinese companies in Namibia to respect local laws and show greater social responsibility.

    Government-supported organizations that promote Chinese investment in Africa, such as the China-Africa Business Council (CABC) and China-Africa Development Fund (CADF), are making efforts to promote corporate social responsibility and ensure investment projects abide by local laws and are environmentally sustainable. The Ministry of Commerce (MOFCOM) is also doing its part to promote improved Chinese business behavior in Africa. In August 2007, MOFCOM held a seminar that brought together 67 Chinese companies working in Africa.

    One of the tools of China's "soft power" is scholarships to African students to study in China. By the end of 2008, more than 20,000 African students had studied in China on Chinese government scholarships. Chinese government scholarships to African students had not only improved China's image in Africa but had also created a cadre of well-educated, Chinese-speaking Africans who have returned to their home countries with positive views of China and a familiarity with Chinese culture and practices.

    Guangzhou's growing and increasingly visible African community has attracted the attention of local authorities. there are 20,000 Africans currently living in Guangzhou, consisting mainly of export buyers, laborers, service sector business owners, and a small number of students.

    Local Chinese authorities have been extremely concerned about the high degree of concentration of Africans into a few Guangzhou neighborhoods (Sanyuanli and Dengfeng areas) because their presence has prompted many Chinese to move out of those areas. This in turn has made control difficult for the government due to cultural and language barriers. There are no official representatives from African countries, formal chambers of commerce, or other registered business/trade organizations in Guangzhou, leaving local authorities at a disadvantage in understanding and managing the African population.

    It has been reported that many Chinese residents did not want to live in "Africa Town" due to "differences" ranging from culture to lifestyle to hygiene. Many also believed that crime rates in areas populated by Africans are higher than in other areas, and hence are dangerous places to live and raise a family. They also believed that African religious practices draw unwanted attention and/or cause disturbances.

    A common misconception among locals, expatriates, and the international press is that the majority of the city's Africans are from Nigeria and that they commit a disproportionate number of the city's crimes. In fact, Malians are most populous in Guangzhou, making up 50 percent of the African community; Congolese come in a distant second, with Nigerians somewhere further down the list. There is tension between Nigerians and the rest of the African community due to Nigerians' "different thinking" and involvement in drugs and prostitution.

    China has succeeded in establishing close ties with high-level government officials in Africa but had been much less successful in developing ties with African NGOs and civil society organizations (CSOs). Most Chinese officials give little thought to supporting African civil society and few Chinese companies in Africa have been involved in philanthropic activities.

    Chinese entrepreneurs have faced some serious challenges in Africa, including the slower pace of making things happen, different cultural and legal environments, and some self-inflicted wounds resulting from the cavalier attitude of some Chinese businessmen during the 2000-2006 period, when Chinese investment in Africa was growing exponentially. Since then, there has been something akin to a bit of a reality check, given Chinese investment scandals in some African countries and growing protectionism in others like Nigeria, which has effectively prohibited Chinese imports ranging from textile to footwear products.

    China's interests are broad, and its leaders have sought good relations with the entire continent, not only specific countries. China's main goal for Africa is the pursuit of "win-win cooperation," especially on the economic front. Since 1995, Africa's economy has outperformed the rest of the world, and China has hoped to deepen its foothold in this growing market.

    Despite the Chinese Government's longstanding position not to interfere in the domestic affairs of other nations, China's leaders have been increasingly sensitive to external criticism of its Africa policies and have made greater effort to address humanitarian issues, such as the ethnic violence in Sudan. China feels greater "responsibility" for Africa's development than other regions such as Latin America, which Chinese officials view as being the United States' backyard. While the Chinese are still willing to do business in countries and in ways that Westerners will not, many have begung to understand that good corporate practices benefit not just African communities and habitats, but their own long-term business (and political) interests.

    Because of China's long history with Africa dating back to the 1950s and the influence, China has sought to cultivate in the continent. In turn, African development and poverty reduction have become major Chinese concerns. Additionally, the China-Africa relationship may evolve to where, by around 2020, a significant number of Chinese corporations may move some of their manufacturing operations to Africa because of rising wages and costs in China. However, in order to make this possible, China will have to continue escalating investments in infrastructure, education, and training, and increase technology transfers to Africa.

    China’s system of resource-backed infrastructure loans is a way for countries with weak governance, unable to access global finance, and prone to the “resource curse”, to opt for an agency of restraint. With multiple competing demands for access to the revenue streams from their natural resources, leaders find it hard to say 'no'. Commodity-backed loans are a pre-commitment technique. They allow a government to have public works expenditures today, paying for them with future exports. In weak governments, rather than trying directly to improve the host government’s accountability mechanisms, or forcing improvements through conditionality, the Chinese accept that institutional development is a long term process. They manage their fiduciary responsibility by keeping control over the finances and almost never giving cash.

    Though private Chinese investors have made significant headway expanding exports to Africa, resource and commodity extraction remains dominated by large state-owned enterprises (SOEs). Lack of communication between the Chinese Ministry of Commerce (MOFCOM) and Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) has made it difficult to keep track of Chinese private investment in Africa,. While the Chinese Government is increasingly concerned about its image, government policy will continue to be driven by core economic and political interests, including securing access to natural resources, developing markets for Chinese exports, and achieving greater influence in international institutions.

    According to the China Radio International sponsored newspaper World News Journal (Shijie Xinwenbao) (08/11): "Western media claim that Secretary Clinton's visit to Africa was aimed at China since the U.S.'s influence in Africa has been challenged by China. The Western world has always viewed African countries as passive players in international relations, players that can be easily manipulated and influenced by other powers. African countries realize that they cannot elicit real concern from Western powers about their livelihood even if they sacrifice their dignity. In contrast, China respects African countries' political dignity and expresses real concern about bringing African people dignified lives through economic cooperation with Africa. Only by viewing African countries on an equal basis can [foreign countries] win real friendship with them. Western countries should learn from China how to respect Africa."

    Chinese imports, particularly of textiles, have been devastating competition for African firms using outdated technologies to produce for local markets. At the same time, some African entrepreneurs have partnered with Chinese companies or used new Chinese machinery and technical assistance, enabling them to compete successfully with Chinese imports into their regions.

    China became Africa's top trade partner in 2009. Bilateral trade hit nearly $200 billion in 2012. This increase has not come without friction, however, as some Africans believed they were getting the short end of the stick, with valuable natural resources being exported to China without much in return by way of jobs or revenue being received back.

    China's image in Africa suffered from the business practices of some Chinese firms and China's limited engagement with African civil society. In 2013, Ghana arrested more than 100 Chinese nationals accused of illegally mining gold in that country. Zambia seized a Chinese coal mine in February 2013 over safety concerns. And Gabon planned to take back assets from three foreign oil companies - including one from China. These moves and others had some analysts pointing to a backlash against Chinese investment on the continent. While experts said the China-Africa honeymoon may be over, divorce was not likely.

    By 2015, the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation [FOCAC], which first met in Beijing in 2000, counted 50 of Africa’s 54 countries among its members. Conferences are held every three years, alternating between Beijing and Africa. Its sixth meeting was scheduled for December 2015 in South Africa.

    Burkina Faso, Swaziland, The Gambia and Sao Tome and Principe [the states that maintain diplomatic relations with Taiwan and do not recognize Beijing] do not participate in FOCAC. Malawi switched diplomatic relations from Taiwan to the People's Republic of China (PRC). Senegal was specifically chosen for Hu Jintao's most recent Africa visit because it had recently (2005) dropped diplomatic relations with Taiwan and established ties with the PRC.

    FOCAC is an inefficient mechanism because of the fact that African countries are treated as one block despite very little cohesion between them. Exacerbating this is China continued interaction with each country on a bilateral basis. Most African countries have not really developed value-added products to sell to China, settling instead for natural resource exports.

    At the 2006 FOCAC, President Hu Jintao made eight major commitments that have underpinned Sino-African cooperation over the last three years: 1) Double China's 2006 economic assistance to Africa by 2009; 2) provide USD 3 billion of preferential loans and USD 2 billion of preferential buyer's credits to Africa in the next three years; 3) set up a USD 5 billion China-Africa Development Fund to encourage Chinese companies to invest in Africa; 4) build a conference center for the African Union; 5) cancel all China's interest-free government loans that matured at the end of 2005 to Africa's heavily indebted and least developed countries that have diplomatic relations with China; 6) further open up China's market to Africa by increasing from 190 to over 440 the number of export items receiving zero-tariff treatment from the least developed countries in Africa having diplomatic ties with China; 7) establish three to five trade and economic cooperation zones in Africa in the next three years; and 8) over the next three years, train 15,000 African professionals; send 100 senior Chinese agricultural experts to Africa; set up 10 special agricultural technology demonstration centers; build 30 hospitals and provide a 300 million yuan grant to fight malaria in Africa by donating artemisinin and building 30 malaria prevention and treatment centers; dispatch 300 youth volunteers to Africa; build 100 rural schools; and increase the number of Chinese government scholarships to African students from 2000 per year to 4000 per year by 2009.

    Trade between China and Africa increased sharply, with total trade volume rising 32 percent in 2007 and an estimated 50 percent in 2008, to over USD 106.8 billion, indicating that the goal proposed by the 2006 summit "to push China-Africa trade volume to USD 100 billion by 2010" was realized two years ahead of schedule. According to Ministry of Commerce (MOFCOM) trade statistics, Africa maintained a slight overall surplus due to strong commodity exports in oil, minerals, wood, cotton, iron-ore, diamonds, and copper, among others. China's exports to Africa consist largely of light industrial products, textiles, electronics, and consumer goods. MOFCOM statistics, however, indicate that bilateral trade was not equitably balanced throughout the continent. In 2008, just five countries (Angola, South Africa, Sudan, Nigeria, and Egypt) accounted for 61 percent of total bilateral trade.

    In addition to Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao, high-level attendees to the 2009 FOCAC meeting included 10 presidents, 3 vice-presidents, and 2 prime ministers from the 49 African countries that had diplomatic relations with the PRC. African heads of state present were Egyptian President and host Hosny Mobarak, Sudanese President Omer al-Bashir, Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe, Republic of Congo Prime Minister Adolphe Muzito, Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi and Central African Republic President Francois Bozize. Many African foreign ministers and ministers of trade were also in attendance, as well as Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi and Minister of Commerce Chen Deming.

    Representatives from the African Development Bank, West African Development Bank, Food and Agriculture Organization, World Bank, United Nations Development Program, and the World Food Program did attend the event as observers. Places for United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, World Health Organization, and World Trade Organization remained empty. No observers from non-African, non-Chinese governments participated.

    The Asian powerhouse had doubled its financing commitments to Africa at each of the last three forum meetings and it’s expected to bolster them with "another impressive line of credit," according to a report from the Africa Growth Initiative, a project of the Brookings Institution in Washington. China's commitments rose from $5 billion in 2006 to $10 billion in 2009 and $20 billion in 2012. It extended its credit line to Africa by another $10 billion in 2014.

    Chinese President Xi Jinping paid his first state visit to the African continent in March, 2013. Chinese Premier Li Keqiang visited African states and the headquarters of the African Union in May 2014. And quite a few other Chinese leaders have visited the African continent. For African states, 29 presidents or heads of government paid visits to China during this period. China and Africa have also strengthened consultations and dialogues. China has held strategic dialogues or political consultations with seven African countries, and joined in economic and trade committee meetings with nine African countries.

    A Ministry of Commerce (MOC) official said 09 December 2014 it was groundless and irresponsible to accuse China of carrying out so-called "neocolonialism" in Africa. Liu Junfeng, vice director of MOC's foreign assistance department, stressed that China provides foreign aid to help other countries realize poverty relief, better livelihood, faster growth and stronger self-dependence, which has been a steadfast rule in the past few decades.

    "Even in the old days when China was much less developed, people witnessed our continuous foreign assistance out of humanitarianism," he said. "It's extremely irresponsible and groundless to criticize China for grabbing resources and markets in Africa.... China's cooperation with African nations in fields of energy and resources follows global market rules," he said, adding that the aid and preferential loans provided to foreign nations mainly went to projects of agriculture, education, medical care, transportation, telecommunication and electricity.

    In June 2015, the World Bank, the China Development Bank and entities such as the United National Industrial Development Organization staged a two-day forum in Ethiopia’s capital, Addis Ababa, on accelerating “responsible” investment and partnerships in the continent. Light manufacturing was cited as a particular focus, “given the availability of local resources and relatively low labor costs,” a World Bank website said. The forum’s website highlighted diplomatic and academic exchanges, as well as projects such as the Chinese-financed Lamu port being built in Kenya. The $24 billion project, due for completion in 2030, "is expected to be Kenya’s second transport corridor, boosting the economic development and regional integration in the East African region and beyond," the site said.

    In May 2015 China officially opened its permanent mission to the African Union headquarters in Addis Ababa to further strengthen its diplomatic relations with countries of the continent through the Pan Africa body. This move made China the first country to have a fully dedicated official mission to the African Union Commission (AUC); a move the commission praised as an indication of commitment of China towards the prosperity of the continent.

    One African complaint is the tendency for some Chinese firms to bring workers from China to carry out infrastructure projects, thus depriving African workers of job opportunities. Chinese companies bring a larger proportion of their workforce from home than Western firms, but this is the case mainly for construction projects in oil-rich countries like Algeria, Libya, or Angola where local labor is expensive. In other places, with few exceptions, Chinese projects have a majority of Africans in their workforce.

    Some companies are responding. China National Petroleum Corporation sends large numbers of its Sudanese employees to China for training, and the China Road and Bridge Company, another big state-owned enterprise involved in a range of infrastructure projects in Africa. For their Kenya operations, 95% of their workforce is made up of Kenyans. However, hiring indigenous workers was easier for large state-owned enterprises. Smaller Chinese companies new to Africa that base their business models on low-cost bids and fast completion times do not have the time, expertise, or resources to train local staff, relying instead on Chinese technical workers to complete projects quickly and efficiently.

    Chinese investors usually prefer importing Chinese laborers to Africa because of a perception that they are more hardworking and easier to train and manage than their African counterparts. Chinese employees are significantly more costly, and with proper training, African employees perform just as well.

    Given the intertwining of Angolan private and government interests, complying with Angola’s local content requirements could put companies in a position of having to partner with unknown, and potentially corrupt, entities. Chinese government’s agreements with the Angolan government allow Chinese firms to use up to 70 percent foreign labor, and no less than 30 percent Angolan labor. However, Chinese firms generally were unable to meet the requirement to hire 30 percent of the workforce locally, in part because of a lack of skilled local workers in the years following Angola’s civil war.

    China's surge in recent years to become the world's second economy sharpened its appetite for oil, iron ore and other raw materials. That put China in a number of places where other investors might fear to tread, from Pakistan and Libya to Egypt and Sudan. As a result, governments of unstable countries have come to rely on Chinese capital and know-how, making companies and officials from China sought-after partners. If China does not invest in DRC's natural resources, then who will? The DRC's natural resources would be wasted without Chinese investment.

    For insurgents and criminal gangs, the Chinese can be sought-after targets, raising questions about how well Beijing protects its citizens abroad. Chinese tend to work in enclaves in Africa. Chinese firms house workers near project sites and maintain long work days. Ghanaian and Kenyan governments’ strict requirements that foreign firms hire local workers have resulted in Chinese firms’ hiring more local workers for construction projects in these countries.

    At the December 2015 Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC), China put forward 10 major cooperation plans for the next three years in areas covering all the important aspects of Africa's development -- industrialization, agricultural modernization, infrastructure construction, financial services, green development, trade and investment facilitation, poverty reduction and public welfare, public health, people-to-people exchanges, and peace and security. The programs will focus on helping African countries break the three development bottlenecks of backward infrastructure, talent shortage and inadequate fund, accelerate industrialization and agricultural modernization, and realize independent and sustainable development.

    Chinese President Xi Jinping proposed to lift the China-Africa relationship to a comprehensive strategic cooperative partnership. Leaders attending a major summit reached consensus on lifting China-Africa relations to a comprehensive strategic cooperative partnership.

    To realize the upgrade, Xi proposed to strengthen the five "major pillars" of political equality and mutual trust, win-win economic cooperation, mutually enriching cultural exchanges, mutual assistance in security, and solidarity and coordination in international affairs. "We should respect each other's choice of development path and not impose our own will on others...China strongly believes Africa belongs to the African people and African problems should be handled by the African people," Xi said.

    As China transitions its economy from manufacturing to services, some 85-100 million jobs will be up for grabs as a lot of that industrial production looks for a new home. Africa may be a tough sale for manufacturers who are always looking to keep costs as low as possible. Compared to regions like Southeast Asia, where most of the outbound Chinese manufacturing is going, Africa’s infrastructure is less developed, its workforce is less educated and its supply chain networks are not as a robust.

    Helen Hai, CEO of the Made in Africa initiative, is an adviser to the governments of Ethiopia, Rwanda, and Senegal on investment promotion and industrialization. Helen Hai believes Africa could soon emerge as the manufacturing workshop of the world. "China began at the lower end taking advantage of competitive labor but eventually built a supply chain around it and became a manufacturing center for the world for everything," she said in June 2017. "Africa can do the same. It is not a one-year process but it could be a 20 or 30-year one.... They just don't have the supply chains. But what is the easy work for them to start with? Definitely shoes, garments and those kind of things."

    She says The big advantage of manufacturing in Ethiopia is the labor costs being about a tenth of those in China with workers achieving 70 percent of the efficiency once trained. "Labor costs are about 20 percent of the cost of producing shoes in China, whereas they are just 3 percent in Ethiopia. The logistics costs are four times greater than in China but they are still only 8 percent of the overall cost."

    Hai is a firm believer that China's engagement in helping establish an industrial base is much more relevant to Africa's needs than the Washington Consensus agenda of developing a private sector through market-led reforms that had been previously the dominant orthodoxy.

    According to a 2017 report by McKinsey Africa, China's engagement with Africa has enjoyed an unparalleled development in the previous decade, with trade growing at around 20 percent annually and 10,000 Chinese firms operating in Africa.

    China has provided a lot of funding to infrastructure projects in Africa, which forms the foundation for the continent's industrialization and economic development. China has been the largest investor in African infrastructure for years. According to Infrastructure Financing Trends in Africa 2015, the latest annual report released by the Infrastructure Consortium for Africa, the total funding for African infrastructure reached $83.5 billion in 2015, of which $20.9 billion came from China.

    Under the American Growth Opportunity Act, African countries can export their products to the United States tariff and quota free. Similarly, under European Union's Everything but Arms initiative, African countries can export their products to the European Union duty-free and quota-free, with the exception of armaments.

    On 06 March 2018 Secretary of State Rex Tillerson criticized China’s approach to Africa, which he said "encourages dependency using opaque contracts, predatory loan practices, and corrupt deals that mire nations in debt and undercut their sovereignty, denying them their long-term, self-sustaining growth. Chinese investment does have the potential to address Africa’s infrastructure gap, but its approach has led to mounting debt and few, if any, jobs in most countries. When coupled with the political and fiscal pressure, this endangers Africa’s natural resources and its long-term economic political stability."

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    Page last modified: 19-12-2021 19:24:30 ZULU