(Is) African spring in Chinese foreign policy (?)


The basis of China’s relations with African countries dates back to the 1950s. Especially in 1955, the Bandung Conference, in which China and African countries came together, provided an excellent opportunity for these countries to establish bilateral relations. While China did not have diplomatic relations with Africa in the pre-Cold War period and had limited relations with the continent in the context of the developments in the international system during the Cold War period, a critical revival was observed in China’s relations with Africa in the 1990s. The 2000s were the years when this vitality reflected on economic indicators. Apart from these emphases, China’s policies in the framework of soft power strategy have a significant impact on the positive progress of China’s relations with African countries. China’s interest in Africa has been directly influenced by changes in China and the international system for nearly seventy years covering the specified period. Both its economic potential and the need to provide the resources, China has developed commercial and economic cooperation and partnerships with other states. This situation inevitably leads China to relate to different geographies. With its political and military power, which has developed in parallel with its increasing economic power, China has become one of the major players in the international system. In this study, it is revealed how China’s foreign policy towards Africa adapts to the changes and transformations witnessed in the country and international system. It is emphasized that China tries to develop different strategies from traditional actors who are active in the continent since the colonial period. In this direction, the main question of the study is whether Africa is a competition area for China or a clear trade area. The apparent hypothesis is a developing Chinese presence in Africa and its discovery. For this reason, China’s existence in Africa was tried to be tested in the historical perspective.

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  1. 1.

    Beijing claims that China and Africa are the cradle of civilization and emphasizes that both regions belong to the developing world and have the same common enemies. As a result, China argues that they have common strategic interests and that their perspectives on critical international issues are stakeholders.

  2. 2.

    At the central or provincial level, China’s economic relations with Africa are increasingly being undertaken by the private sector and even by small- and medium-sized enterprises.

  3. 3.

    After 1978, economic growth accelerated in China with economic reforms and foreign policy. Since then, China’s per capita income has quadrupled every ten years. China’s growing economic presence in the world economy has also changed the nature and content of economic relations.

  4. 4.

    Although per capita energy use in China is only one-fourth of energy use in the US, it is expected that per capita energy use will increase significantly as living standards in China continue to rise.

  5. 5.

    The Darfur crisis in Sudan in 2003: the government’s failure to take into account the development of the region and intervening in the tension between ethnic and religious groups living in the region is quite harsh. In 2004, the UN Security Council sent a research commission to Darfur. The Commission’s report on the issue in 2005 states that what happened in Darfur was a war crime. At the US’ initiative, the UN Security Council decided to intervene in Darfur, but China opposed the decision to intervene in Darfur without the Sudanese government’s consent and suggested that Sudan should resolve the crisis within its borders.


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Güntay, V. (Is) African spring in Chinese foreign policy (?). Asia Eur J (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10308-021-00602-w

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