Access, assurance and acceptance: investigating the African aspect of China's emerging foreign policy strategy




MacDonald, Adam Perry

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China’s renewed engagement in Africa is shaped by an ever more coherent and multi-faceted African strategy which is informed by and supportive of Beijing’s emerging foreign policy strategy in general. Through an investigation into economic, political and military dimensions of this relationship, it is apparent that China’s interests in Africa are not confined to the continent nor simply a patch work of ad hoc relations of economic opportunism, but rather Africa is seen as playing a vital role in furthering China’s three foreign policy objectives of 1) access to economic and political resources both on the continent and internationally; 2) assurance of China’s rise as peaceful and beneficial; 3) and acceptance of China’s ascendance and growing influence internationally as legitimate. While economic interests, particularly resource extraction, remain paramount, Africa is becoming an important political ally in supporting Chinese efforts towards creating a more conducive international environment for its domestic development and rise to great power status. Military relations in Africa, though growing, remain limited and play an assisting role to China’s greater economic and political interests. While this developing African strategy has so far been largely successful in securing economic resources and generating backing for Chinese interests internationally, concerns and criticisms stemming both from Western states and increasingly within the continent itself over issues such as development, economic exploitation, human rights and governance, and support for pariah regimes remain central challenges. China’s African strategy, therefore, while informed by a number of strategic interests and practices, remains highly contingent as Beijing attempts to constantly balance interests and relationships on the continent with those internationally, including both of a short and long term nature.



China, Africa, foreign policy strategy, great power, African strategy