Contemporary Sino-Africa Relations

Concerns and opportunities

Term Paper, 2013

13 Pages, Grade: 1,0

Fredrik Utesch (Author)


Table of Contents


The development of Sino-Africa relations
The first steps
Reasons for the orientation towards Africa and its implementation
Up and down in the 1970’s and 1980’s
The “five points proposal”, “FOCAC” and “the year of Africa”
Contemporary situation

Opportunities and Concerns

Conclusion and prospects



In 1955 the first Afro-Asian Bandung conference was conducted a first step for the development of the Sino-African relationship. Just one year later the first relation between an African country, Egypt, and China was signed. Since then, many new relation agreements were signed. Up to now, there exist 49 relations between African countries and China. With these settlements much development between the African continent and China has occurred. Not only political connections were established, but also support on international levels was given between the countries. Also business sector relations were made, as well as cultural and social exchanges realized. Historical moments were shared and the economies on both sides of the relations rose. During the years a lot of chances for development, especially in supporting the African countries were taken, especially investments from the Chinese side. With this, new opportunities came up and respect from other countries regarding this relationship encouraged; however, concerns are evolving from the African population and westernized countries.

Within this paper, I will first of all reveal the history and development of the relationships between countries of the African continent and China. Further on, I will talk about the opportunities and concerns seen by those nations directly involved and also those seen from a westernized point of view. To sum up the paper, I will highlight prospects and possible future developments between Africa and China.

The development of Sino-Africa relations

The first steps

To understand the contemporary situation and the relationships between African countries and China, it is important to take a look at the development of the relationships and their common history. A common era is 1. October 1949, a time when the People’s Republic of China got proclaimed. In the 1950s African countries, including Sudan, Libya, Ghana and Tunisia got independence. Sino – African relations are looking back to a joint history of 57 years. Beginning, May 1956, when China signed its first diplomatic relation in Africa with Egypt. Within 15 years, from 1956 on, China developed diplomatic relations with up to 44 different African countries. During that time, China not only sent health aid directly to African countries but also offered military support via training and weapons to support the independent movement of its African partners.

Reasons for the orientation towards Africa and its implementation

China feels until now obliged to support struggling African countries, due to its own historical background in times of oppression in colonialism. In its African policy, this is one of the major points to support those countries. Furthermore, influence of the West and the Soviet Union in Africa should be diminished and support was sought to counter recognition of Taiwan as the representative at the UN.[i] To achieve this situation China moreover used financial investments and projects to get a good reputation among African countries and support on the topics mentioned earlier. One project for example was the invitation to students from Africa and let them study at Chinese universities – paid by the Chinese government. A major infrastructure project by China from 1970 until 1975 was its built and financed TAZARA resp. TANZAM or also called Uhuru (Swahili – Freedom) railway. With this project, China financed Zambia’s economic independence of the South African .The end stations of the railway track are Kapiri Mposhi in Zambia and the port of Tanzania, Dar es Salaam.[ii]

Up and down in the 1970’s and 1980’s

In 1971, Chinas strategy gained profit when it substituted Taiwan as a member and the representative of China in the UN with the help from its African associates. Today, only 5 African countries, Burkina Faso, Swaziland, Malawi, The Gambia, Sao Tome and Principe, do not support China regarding the “One China Policy”. This means, that these countries don’t see Taiwan as a part of The People’s Republic of China. Furthermore, they have the opinion, that the Republic of China is the one and only representative of China. On the one hand, after this strategic success for China, political support was to this time not anymore a main requirement and furthermore the African countries couldn’t provide the expertise and technology needed. But also, because on the other hand, China lost its good reputation during the civil war in Angola by taking the site of the United States. Years of downswing within the Sino-Africa relation was the result. However, in 1989 the value of African partnerships rose again. The cause of improved relations with Africa was not only the repeated loss of China’s support from the West due to the Tiananmen Square Protest in Beijing, but also because the Soviet Union broke up. Albeit, China could now trust its African partners on an international level. The concentration of western countries on Africa abated with the end of the Cold War in 1991.

The “five points proposal”, “FOCAC” and “the year of Africa”

The President during this time, Jiang Zemin, saw the opportunity for China and offered 1996 a “Five Points Proposal” to African countries to strengthen and structure the relationships.[iii] Following, in year 2000 the “FOCAC – Forum of China-Africa Cooperation” was established. During the next years, the partnerships and trades between Africa and China developed exponentially.

The year 2006 was officially named as the year of Africa by the PRC. Not only a FOCAC, with 48 African countries participating took part in Beijing, but also a “white paper” got published by Chinese government. This states a milestone in Sino-Africa relations. The white paper includes eight measures concerning the strategic cooperation between the People’s Republic of China and its African partners, as well as a new orientation China’s towards Africa. Furthermore, with this paper, the Chinese government pointed out that it is not interested in a short, superficial relationship with African countries, but interested in long term bilateral connections.[iv] Following the FOCAC and the publicity of the white paper, investments of US$ 9billion on the African continent where signed in 2006.[v] Furthermore, developing aid for the African partner countries was set during the Africa tour of Wen Jiabao. For instance, schools and hospitals should be built. Political connections strengthened and several leaders of the high levels visited each other.


[i] Li Anshan, Robert I. Rotberg (Editor), “China’s New Policy toward Africa”, China into Africa: Trade, Aid and Influence, 2008

[ii] He Wenping, Partners in Development, Beijing Review, No. 44 Nov. 2, 2006


[iv] Li Anshan, China and Africa: Policy and Challenges, China Security, Vol.3, No.3, p. 69-93, 2007

[v] Foster, Butterfield, Chen, Pushak, Building Bridges: China’s Growing Role as Infrastructure Financier for Sub-Saharan Africa, 2009

Excerpt out of 13 pages


Contemporary Sino-Africa Relations
Concerns and opportunities
Fudan University Shanghai
Chinese Diplomacy
Catalog Number
ISBN (eBook)
ISBN (Book)
File size
473 KB
China, Africa, Afrika, Sino, Relation, Beziehungen, Contemporary, Gegenwärtig, Concerns, opportunities, Chancen
Quote paper
Fredrik Utesch (Author), 2013, Contemporary Sino-Africa Relations, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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