Monday, December 7, 2015

China's New Africa Policy Paper

China released on 4 December 2015 at the FOCAC Summit in Johannesburg a white paper on its Africa policy that updates its policy statement issued in 2006.  It does not represent a new policy towards Africa, but does expand on some issues and reprioritizes others.  The paper states that it clarifies China's Africa policy by taking into account new circumstances.  It links President Xi Jinping's "Chinese dream" to the "African dream" and ties the policy more closely to the UN's 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.  It continues to emphasize the "one-China principle," non-interference in internal affairs, and no political strings attached to its assistance.

At the political level, the paper calls for intensifying high-level exchanges, increased sharing of China's developmental experience, improving intergovernmental cooperation, and promoting political exchanges at all levels including with the Communist Party of China.

It calls for more cooperation concerning Africa in a variety of UN-affiliated organizations, the IMF, and the G-20.

The section of the paper dealing with economic cooperation puts a new emphasis on support for Africa's industrialization and  agricultural modernization while expanding China's support for infrastructure development in Africa.  China will continue to fund projects in Africa through preferential loans, the China-Africa Development Fund, loans for small and medium-sized enterprises, and the BRICS New Development Bank.  It will work to increase imports from Africa and Chinese investment in Africa.  There is a new emphasis on green energy cooperation and developing Africa's marine economy.

Aid cooperation seems to be largely more of the same with a focus on the health and education sectors and poverty alleviation.  But there is additional attention given to technology sharing and environmental protection.

Cultural cooperation is also similar to that laid out in the 2006 policy paper except that the goal is to expand it in all fields, with perhaps more attention to the media, academia, and think tanks.

The section on promoting peace and security is notable by what it does not say.  It calls for strengthening military exchange visits and scaling up training of African military personnel.  China will continue to support anti-piracy operations in the Gulf of Aden and Gulf of Guinea.  It will also support African counterterrorism capacity, a relatively new focus.  Finally, it will strengthen exchanges in consular, judicial, and police sectors, also new areas of emphasis. 

There is, however, no mention of increased Chinese naval expansion in the Western Indian Ocean or the establishment of a military facility in Djibouti.  Nothing specific is said about protecting the growing numbers of Chinese nationals living in Africa and the fact they are increasingly getting in harm's way. 

The paper concludes with a commitment to work closely with the African Union and Africa's sub-regional organizations

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