Author: Chenchen Wu (the School of Government and International Affairs, Durham University)
As global demand for energy increases, major players like the United States, the European Union, and Japan are facing competition from a new source as China struggles to meet its need for long-term energy supply. China-Africa cooperation has particularly been put in the spotlight. Some international observers accuse Chinese foreign policy towards African countries of undermining international efforts to increase transparency and good governance. Others describe a policy of ‘an aid for oil strategy’ or even a ‘neo-colonial policy’. On the African side, some blame on Chinese enterprises of underbidding local firms, especially in the textile industry, or of failing to hire Africans. In Beijing, the Chinese government insists on its ‘non-interference’ policy and refuses to link business with the human rights issue. The Beijing Summit in 2006 accelerated the interaction between China and Africa even further, as the two sides decided to accelerate cooperation, especially in joint resources exploration and exploitation.
This research paper, divided in two parts, aims to provide insights into the status of the Sino-Africa relationship and gives a relatively objective conclusion. Part one considers the policy level, examining the past relationship from the ‘Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence’ in the Bandung Conference in 1955, to ‘Four Principles of Chinese Cooperation with Africa’ in 1982, to ‘a New Strategic Partnership’ in 2006. This concludes that China’s policy towards African has moved away from unconditional assistance so that ‘mutual-benefits’ has become the priority. Part two examines the motivation level. Here I argue that China’s policy to Africa is not only driven by oil and other resource needs, but also the strategic importance of the African continent, which lies in three considerations, with commercial factors
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