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China’s long Africa game

Date: 14 January 2022 Tags: Miscellaneous

Issue

China’s foreign minister Wang Yi carried out a high profile five nation tour of Asia and Africa this month.

 

Background

China has been carrying out visits to Africa at the start of the year since 32 years. The relation with the continent goes back to more than three decades.

 

Details

  • China always maintained an ideological presence in Africa even as the US and Soviet Union tussled to have control over the resource-rich continent during Cold War era.

  • China has rekindled its old ties with several African countries in the past decade to get access to abundant natural resources of the continent and use it for its own growth.

 

China’s projects

  • The first project executed by China in Africa was Tanzania-Zambia railway in the 1970s. It was the first trans-national railway project in the continent.

  • Apart from its ability to carry passengers, the line also transported ore from Zambian copper mines to the port city of Dar-e-Salam in Tanzania.

 

Current context

  • Yi’s visit to Kenya was to inaugurate the completion of the Chinese-built oil terminal at the port city of Mombasa.

  • He has promised developmental assistance in Mozambique and Comoros. He visited Eritrea and Ethiopia to back the government’s fight against rebels in Tigray.

 

China’s ambitions

  • Considering its focus on Indian Ocean region, China has announced a separate envoy for Horn of Africa consisting of Eritrea, Djibouti, Ethiopia, Somalia and Kenya.

  • It wants to play a mediator in restoring peace in the region. It has blamed ‘external force’ for destabilizing the region.

 

China’s African investment

  • China has been the biggest trade partner of Africa. The two way trade in 2020 was $ 187 billion. The balance of trade is in China’s favor.

  • China has invested $ 2.96 billion in Africa in 2020. This makes it the biggest investor in the continent.

  • South Africa, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Angola, Ethiopia, and Zambia are at the top of Chinese financial investment.

  • Apart from infrastructure construction projects and mining in Africa, China is also investing in transport, scientific research, and the services sector.

 

Tussle with US

  • The US realized that China has gained footing in Africa through its attractive investments in the form of ports, railways and other infrastructure projects under BRI.

  • The US has launched International Development Finance Corporation, which will be deployed under Build Back Better World initiative.