Wednesday, May 8, 2024

China, Russia, Africa, and Peacebuilding

 The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute published on 18 April 2024 an analysis titled "China, Russia and the Future of Peacebuilding" by Jiayi Zhou, Jair van der Lijn, and Jingdong Yuan.

China's approach to peacebuilding emphasizes sovereignty and regime security and tends to downplay the protection of civilians in armed conflict.  China stresses that poverty and underdevelopment are root causes of conflict and insecurity; economic development is hence considered a key element in fostering peace.

Russia's approach shares China's emphasis on state sovereignty and host state consent, although several Russian military operations such as Ukraine have violated those precepts.  Russia's position is in several respects starkly different to China's.  It argues that economic difficulties do not automatically lead to insecurity and that stabilizing the security situation leads to improved developmental and societal outcomes in a given country--not the other way around.

The authors conclude that China has no distinctive, clearly defined approach to peacebuilding.  Likewise, gaps and inconsistencies between rhetoric and action suggest that Russia engages in fragile settings opportunistically rather than offering a principled approach or paradigm to fostering peace.

Comment:  The differences in approach to peacebuilding by China and Russia suggest this is not an area where they are likely to cooperate in Africa.  Based on past Chinese experience, it is almost inconceivable that China would agree to collaborate with a Russian Wagner Group or Africa Corps contingent.