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Thursday 24 Aug 2017 | 05:25 | SYDNEY
Thursday 24 Aug 2017 | 05:25 | SYDNEY

Call for questions: China in Africa

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11 November 2011 14:44

Peter Martin and David Cohen are conducting a series of interviews, using reader-submitted questions, with Chinese academics and journalists. Previous installments in this series here.

Next week, we will be talking to He Wenping at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences about Sino-African relations and China's emergence as a global power. She is an expert on China's relations with Africa, South African politics, and democratic transitions in Africa. Once again, we will use your questions, which you can submit through blogeditor@lowyinstitute.org .

China has taken a growing role in Africa (PDF) over the past decade, beginning from trade and joint infrastructure projects, and including China's first participation in international peacekeeping missions. Chinese leaders, constantly worried about what they see as efforts by Western powers to dominate supplies of oil and other vital commodities, see opportunities in Africa's abundant natural resources and weak ties to other world powers.

He Wenping has argued that the end of the Cold War gave China a window of opportunity in Africa: 'The continent is being marginalized in the diplomatic strategies of major Western countries. However, China is as always committed to developing relations with Africa.'

But, China has also run into unfamiliar problems in its Africa plans, pushing it toward international institutions and norms. Its trade and development deals have come under fire internationally and within Africa as cynical attempts to buy natural resources from questionable regimes, and its infrastructure projects, which rely on imported Chinese construction firms and workers, have been criticised for contributing little to local economies. 

China has also come under fire for dealing with regimes under international sanctions, signing oil deals with the Bashir Government in Sudan and the regime of the late Colonel Qadhafi, and allowing Chinese arms companies to sell weapons to Robert Mugabe's government in Zimbabwe.

But foreign and Chinese scholars see Africa as an opportunity for China to take up a role in the international system commensurate with its growing economic power. It has become involved in international peacekeeping for the first time in the continent, sending over 2000 soldiers on UN missions and notably supporting intervention in the Congo without demanding consent from all parties to the conflict. China's relationships with isolated leaders could also give it a unique role in mediating conflicts.

Please send your questions to blogeditor@lowyinstitute.org . We look forward to seeing them!

Photo by Flickr user United Nations Photo.

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