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China’s ties with Africa UPSC NOTE

 Which countries did Chinese Minister of Foreign Affairs Wang Yi visit during his trip to the continent?

  • From January 13-18, the Chinese Minister of Foreign Affairs, Wang Yi, visited four African countries, Egypt, Tunisia, Togo and the Ivory Coast. 

  • This was Wang Yi’s 11th annual trip to Africa to enhance economic and security cooperation with the continent.

What has been the history of the relationship between Africa and China?

  • Sino-African relations go back to the 1950s when China supported several African liberation movements during the Cold War era

  • In the 70s, African countries’ support was paramount in China acquiring its seat in the UN Security Council. 

  • Earlier, their relationship focused on ideological support; it was only in 1999 that China encouraged its companies to invest in Africa as part of the “Go Out Policy.”

  • In 2000, the FOCAC held its first dialogue, aiming to consolidate China-Africa cooperation under diplomacy, investment and trade

  • The dialogue aptly outlined the steady growth from trade, to aid, to “mutual security assistance,” under Xi Jinping. 

  • In 2013, the relationship amplified with China launching its Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), building inroads with 52 African countries as signatories

  • Currently, China is Africa’s largest trading partner, with over one-fourth of its raw material exported to China. 

  • The Chinese Loans to Africa database highlights that between 2000 and 2022.

  • Loans worth $170.08 billion were granted to 49 African countries. 

  • The nature of Chinese presence in Africa has grown from being a mere investor to a strategic actor with the People’s Liberation Army Navy stationing its first international base in Djibouti.

What is China’s foreign policy of non-interference?

  • First, access to key resources. 

  • Africa supplies 90% of the world’s cobalt and platinum, and 75% of coltan, essential for electronics

  • China has the largest refineries in Africa for rare earths and minerals that are vital to its emerging tech industry. 

  • The dominance in the mining sector has made the U.S. dependable on China for key minerals from Africa.

  • Second, the African alliance and its geopolitical aspirations. 

  • In the UN General Assembly, Africa is the largest bloc and has the power to swing resolutions on contentious issues like the South China Sea.

  • Africa has been vocal in supporting China in the international arena including its “One China” policy for Taiwan and Hong Kong

  • Third, strengthening the Yuan (RMB). 

  • China is encouraging Africa to trade in Chinese currency. 

  • The RMB offers cross-border yuan-based “panda bonds,” by which foreign governments can issue funds from China at lower interest rates.

  • Additionally, China’s debt restructuring of Zambia’s $4.1 billion loan has incentivised borrowers towards RMB. 

  • With lower Chinese interest rates and the depreciation of African local currency.

  • The RMB stands as an alternative to the dollar

  • Fourth, commercial opportunities. 

  • Africa imports largely from China for finished goods. 

  • The African markets for Chinese exports are beneficial for the Chinese economy

  • Africa’s young population and cheap labour force support Chinese exports globally and in Africa.


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