China’s Diplomacy in Africa

By on February 12, 2010

China’s Diplomacy in Africa

Dr. He Wenping

(Professor, Director of African Studies Section of
Institute of West Asian & African Studies,
Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, CASS)

With the end of the Cold War in the early 1990s, Africa lost its much-valued geopolitical status. As a result, the attention the West devotes to Africa has been constantly on the decline. The continent is being marginalized in the diplomatic strategies of major Western countries. However, China is as always committed to developing relations with Africa. While cementing their economic and trade ties that began to expand in the 1980s, China sees great value in fostering an across-the-board relationship with Africa by forging closer political, cultural and educational links.

FOCAC and China-Africa Summit: A New Milestone

There is no doubt that Africa is high on China’s diplomatic agenda in recent years. Along with the releasing the very first White Paper on China’s Africa Policy on January 2006, a number of high-level official visiting to Africa have been taken by President Hu Jintao, Premier Wen Jiabao and other cabinet members and the members of the Political Bureau.
A new milestone in the history of China-Africa relations has been created when African leaders gather in Beijing with their Chinese counterparts for the First Summit of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) and its Third Ministerial Conference in early November 2006. In fact, the year 2006 marked the ‘Year of Africa’ in China’s diplomacy. Also in the same year, China became Africa’s third largest trading partner following the United States and France, making Africa one of China’s major overseas origins for strategic resources, investment opportunities and greater product markets.
The Forum on China-Africa Cooperation, established in 2000, provides an institutionalized platform for enhancing bilateral exchanges and cooperation. Over the last four FOCAC meetings in 2000, 2003, 2006 and 2009, China has offered a series of incentive measures to boost China-Africa ties, such as debt write-off to African countries, tariff-free for some African commodities exporting to China as well as establishing and increasing the Fund for African Human Resources Development, etc. At the opening ceremony of China-Africa Summit in early November 2006, President Hu Jintao announced China’s eight-point proposal supporting African development:

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