As the bonds between Africa and China have strengthened over the past few years, China’s dealings with the continent are evolving from being mostly economically-focussed to more sensitive socio-political fields. At a recent lecture at LSE, Dr Bonnie Ayodele of Ekiti State University in Nigeria and Professor Zhongying Pang of Renmin University of China addressed the evolving nature of China’s African Policy.
In his presentation, Dr Ayodele described the common ground between China and African countries which led to the explosion of China’s interest in the continent. The traditional outlet of that interest has been trade and energy. While China has no history in African security, Dr Ayodele believes that the Asian giant could be a game-changer.
He pinpointed peacekeeping as one area where China has gone from outright rejection in the 1970s to reluctant participation in the 1980s to prolonged participation in UN peacekeeping operations from the 1990s onwards. China has now participated in seven peacekeeping missions in Africa and 75% of its peacekeepers are based on the continent.
Professor Pang admitted to a packed theatre that Chinese politics stands at a crossroads particularly with regards to Chinese-Africa policy. However he emphasised that the move from non-interference to constructive intervention will not necessarily mean military and unilateral interventions such as those by the traditional world powers. Rather, it will see China constructively and comprehensively participate in peace, security and stability in Africa.