China, in the past five years, has developed a proactive global policy and is emerging as a new global power with particular focus on developing countries in Central Asia, Southeast Asia, Latin America and Africa.
What is the role of Africa in China’s emerging global foreign policy? In 1998, China’s aid to Africa was $107 million. By 2004, it had reached $2.7 billion, 26% of its international assistance that year. In 2005, Africa-China trade reached $40 billion, 35% up from the previous year. China is interested mainly in four sectors: infrastructure projects, regional banks such as the African Development Bank, training of African professionals particularly in economic management, and institutions of higher education with the goal of establishing Chinese language programs. The human factor is also important. Chinese Diaspora is fast increasing. For example, in Zambia, it grew from 3,000 to 30,000 in ten years and, in South Africa, from practically none to 300,000.
African countries constitute a new market for Chinese products. They also provide a source of raw materials. Today, the continent supplies 30% of China’s import of oil and gas, Angola being the largest supplier with 522,000 barrels of oil per day to China. The last five years, Chinese oil companies spent $15 billion acquiring oil fields and local companies. The appetite for raw materials goes beyond oil and gas and China’s foreign political strategy is primarily to solve its own domestic problems and protect its interests in the global arena.
Will Africa be a pawn or a player in this emerging geopolitical game? Will China’s deepening relations with the continent represent a new opportunity for African countries to negotiate a new partnership and skillfully use it to the best advantage of their citizens? These are some of the questions contributors to the volume have tried to answer by examining various facets of these deepening relations and underlining areas of concerns as well as the opportunities for mutually rewarding relations.
Dr. Marcel Kitissou, a historian and political scientist, is a member of the public policy faculty at the Union Institute and University (Cincinnati, Ohio) and Visiting Fellow with the Institute for African Development at Cornell University. He was formerly Senior Visiting Research Scholar at the Center for Global Studies at George Mason University. He has also been the Faculty Director of the Global Humanitarian Action Program and the Summer Institute on International Development of the same institution and Executive Director of the Washington DC-based Africa Faith and Justice Network. Earlier, he founded and directed the PEACE Institute of the State University of New York at Oswego; he directed a regional school of journalism in Lomé, and was Associate Director of the National School of Public Administration of Togo. He has published widely on security issues and the politics of water in Africa.