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China’s Relations with Africa and West
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China’s Relations with Africa and West
Introduction
The international relations between China and countries of the West and Africa have enjoyed a long standing relationship though at different levels. Since the emergence of the People’s Republic of China, China-West and China-Africa relations have advanced continuously, as shall be demonstrated herein by the deepening relations in economic, political and cultural realms. These relations have created a new form of strategic partnerships founded on political equality, economic win-win relations, mutual trust and social-cultural exchanges.
Over the last 60 years or so, China-West and China-Africa co-operations, have been based on the principles of equality, sincerity, mutual benefit and international relations development. Particularly, in Africa the co-operations have demonstrated reverence to the will of African countries, deepened relations between African and Chinese businesses and indicated a higher level of sincerity in helping African countries in their development agendas. However, this may not be the case with co-operations between China and the West due to different interest between the two entities, apparently, different from those that are experienced in Africa. Notwithstanding these different interests, a common feature on trade and economic relations have reached remarkable results and the overall effect has enabled growth in business exchanges, widened scope in the relations and essentially yielded benefits to the people of China, West and Africa. The China-West and China-Africa co-operations are different in many aspects and it is only prudent to analyze each one of them in isolation and establish facts from the nature of relations.
China-Africa Relations 1949-2012
China is world’s largest developing country; however, Africa is the continent with largest number of developing states. China-Africa relations play a very significant role in advancing their respective progress and helping attract support from international community especially for Africa’s development. Currently, China is the greatest trade and economic partner of Africa (Alden, 2007).
Historically, the relationships between China and Africa began in 1949 after the People’s Republic of China was founded. Basically, the period 1950s to 1970s was marked with less activity in terms of relations since most of the African countries were actively engaged in national liberation while China was working constantly to safeguard their territorial integrity and sovereignty. However, the countries supported each other to establish mutual trust, friendships and build foundations for political, trade and economic co-operations. Egypt became the first country to establish diplomatic relations with China in 1956 which opened up a new epoch of China-Africa relations. In 1971, China was able to acquire a legitimate seat in the United Nations which was made possible by the unfailing support from Africa. In fact, by 1978 China was able to establish diplomatic ties with estimated forty African countries (Cisse, 2012).
Until this period, trade and economic relations between China and Africa was mainly focused on building bilateral relations in trade and largely on China’s assistance on the African continent. In this regard, China was able to help Africa with a number of light industries, social welfare advantages, agricultural and manufacturing projects, like the construction of the Tazara railway. Another instance can be traced in 1955, when China bought about 13,000 tones of cotton from Egypt to help it manage the economic sanctions that were imposed to Egypt by the West. This timely intervention by China marked the first direct economic assistance extended to Africa (Der Lugt, 2007).
While providing Africa with these economic interventions, China stood to gain knowledge and expertise from Africans. In such, China imported large volumes of sisal from Zambia, orange varieties and plantation farming techniques from Morocco, and valuable cotton plantation management and techniques from Togo and Egypt (Gaye, 2006).
The year 1978, brought an epitome of China’s growth and development, it began to implement a policy of reformation and opening up which emphasized on economic development. This was a benchmark strategy that spearheaded China’s industrial development and modernization processes that expanded Chinese enterprises and growth opportunities. By this year, most of the African were liberalized and they began setting economic recovery strategies and essentially deepened international linkages. From the gains realized from these relations, China sought to create principles of equality, efficiency, mutual benefit, diversity and establish a situation of mutual development to enhance technical and economic relations with African countries (Alden, 2007). The period 1978 to 1999, put forward quintessential complementarities between China and Africa that advanced trade and economic co-operations between these two actors. Prompted by the rapid growth in bilateral trade, most of the Chinese companies started contracting engineering projects that were meant to reconstruct Africa. In such, Africa was able to benefit from Chinese labor and the gains created thereof by establishment of equitable and cooperative joint enterprises in the continent. The gains were not unilateral because some African companies also began investing in China (Gaye, 2006).
As the world ushered in the 21st Century, it is evident that China and Africa had the mutual interest to further deepen their diplomatic relations and co-operation. It is for this reason that, China and Africa jointly created the Forum on China-Africa Co-operation (FOCAC). FOCAC was able to establish new strategic partnership deals which were mainly aimed at increasing the nature of political equality, economic win-win situations, mutual trust and social cultural exchanges (Li, 2007). Within the frameworks of FOCAC, the government of China was able to initiate a number of requisite measures that would facilitate its cooperation with Africa, including eight strategic measures adopted in a previous Beijing Summit. To be precise, these strategic measures tackled a wide array of issues like debt reliefs, zero-tariffs and import duty treatment, development aids, encouragement of investments, concessional loans, public health and medical intervention, human capital transfers and science and technology. These relations triggered further reforms which led to the creations of China-Africa Joint Chamber of Commerce to deal will specific bilateral relations. Further, reforms are continually been development to better the relations between China and Africa which are mainly adopted during ministerial conferences of FOCAC (Der Lugt, 2007).
According to Shinn 2012, the period 2000-2009 marked a significant growth of China- Africa relations especially in trade and economic relation (Shinn, 2012)s. Yearly statistical estimations indicate that bilateral trade increased from 10.6 billion U.S Dollars in 2000 to 91.07 billion U.S Dollars in 2009. On the other hand, China’s Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in Africa expanded from 220 million U.S Dollars to 1.44 billion U.S Dollars in 2009, while Africa’s FDI to China rose from 280 million USD in 2000 to 1.31 billion USD in 2009. In addition, China economic assistance to Africa has grown tenfold with a main objective of increasing social welfare, capacity building, poverty reduction, medical intervention and public health, training and education and infrastructural development. Further, this era saw a significant expansion in co-operations as far as finance, tourism, telecommunications, environmental conservation and production of clean energy is concerned (Van Dijk, 2009).
By the end of 2012, China was able to sign significant number agreements in various sectors such as trade, technical and economic co-operations with over45 countries of Africa. Other agreements focused on bilateral promotion, protecting investments with over 31 nation states, and avoidance of double taxation. By this time also, China was able to create bilateral joint or mixed committees which discussed matters of trade and economic co-operations with over 44 nation states of Africa. In essence, during the span of sixty years, dynamics in scope and levels of China-Africa relations have brought milestone economic and social advantages. This nature of co-operation assisted the two actors deal with some of their challenges, deliver common development efforts and possibly make strides in achieving Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) (Shinn, 2012).
China-US relations1949-2012
International relations between China and U.S have undergone milestone changes that define their current relations. These relations began immediately after the People’s Republic of China was founded in 1949. The co-operations can be analyzed in three main phases as shall be discussed below in the following subheadings:
Containment 1949-1969
During this twenty year period, the United States was actively trying to destabilize, disrupt and mainly weaken the communist government of China. The then President of the U.S Bush senior believed that China was emerging to be a very aggressive and expansionist powerhouse that was even threatening the security and stability of neighboring non-communists states. For this reason, the United States created powerful offshore military alliances along eastern and southern boarders of China. These U.S military alliances were mainly made of Japan, Taiwan and South Korea. Together with U.S allies, they formed the Southeast Asian Treaty Organization (SEATO) which was made up of Thailand, Philippines, South Vietnam, Australia and the United States. To advance this end, the United States kept military presence in all these countries and it is during this period that it engaged the Vietnam into war (Cohen, 2010).
Washington pushed the agenda by her asking her allies not to enter into any diplomatic ties with Beijing. On its behalf it made it illegal for American citizens to visit China and further refrained from trade relations with China and established an international embargo. In addition, the U.S pushed forward what was termed as the “wedge strategy”. This Strategy was geared towards splitting the ties between communist China and Soviet Union. The strategy became successful in 1960 when the Soviet Union split and actually worsened late (Kissinger, 2011)r.
Rapprochement 1970-1979
This period was marked by a calculated move between China and U.S as they tried to come closer to one another. This was an objective end between China and the U.S, since the U.S wanted to bring to a halt the Vietnamese war while China sought support for resisting pressure from the Soviet Union. The visit of President Nixon to China in the beginning of 1972 brought a crucial breakthrough to rapprochement. Both the then Chinese emperor Zhou Enlai and Nixon signed the infamous Shanghai communiqué (Wang, 2006). This agreement acknowledged that "acknowledges that all Chinese on either side of the Taiwan Strait maintain that there is but one China and that Taiwan is a part of China. The United States Government does not challenge that position. It reaffirms its interest in a peaceful settlement of the Taiwan question by the Chinese themselves. With this prospect in mind, it affirms the ultimate objective of the withdrawal of all U.S. forces and military installations from Taiwan. In the meantime, it will progressively reduce its forces and military installations on Taiwan as the tension in the area diminishes..." This was an achievement in bringing to an end the long period of troubled China-U.S relations, which brought forward the unwavering trade, cultural exchanges and educational relations between these two actors (Robert, 2008). Full Diplomatic Relations 1979-2012 By the end 1979, China and U.S had almost established full diplomatic co-operations. To achieve this, the U.S was had no option rather that breaking her diplomatic relations with Taiwan, however, few informal linkages remained with the Taiwanese people. Further, the U.S Congress repealed and passed the Taiwan Relations Act in order to commit the U.S in helping Taiwan maintain an efficient self defense potential to protect itself at the event that they received an attack from mainland China (Kang, 2007). The time when U.S and China developed normal diplomatic ties coincided with China’s launch for reforms and opening policies which was meant to hasten diplomatic relations. In such, the period marked rapid development of trade and industry especially in the West. By opening up, China benefited from Western tourism and was able to create high end ties in both academic and cultural sectors (Cohen, 2010). The U.S and China was able to establish linkages in a number of issues for instance, forging forward for peace in Korea. However, there are many issues that even today remain unresolved between the U.S china co-operations. Some of the major concerns of the U.S, was how they implemented Chinese human rights policies, China’s trade in nuclear technology and missiles to countries of Asia, and the large volumes of trade from China to U.S. China on their side they have criticized the continued sale of firearms to Taiwan by the American governments, and the U.S foreign policies which are accused of putting the interests of the U.S at the expense of the other countries (Wang, 2006). The relations between U.S and China cannot be conclusive without the mention of the contention between the U.S about China’s human rights issue. American Non Governmental Organizations, media and the U.S government have continually criticized how the Chinese government treats dissidents, ethnic groups, religious groups, workers, prisoners, and accusing criminals among other critical issues. The American government and critics are of the view that, policies implemented by the Chinese government in situations stated herein above violate internationally recognized standards of human rights (Cohen, 2010). The event that mainly triggered all these reactions at the center of the U.S-China relations was the violent crackdown that was put forward against student protestors in Beijing on June 4, 1989. Since this event, the U.S has been in loggerheads with Chinese governments as far as violation of human rights is concerned. The policy instruments that the U.S has been using against China is public shaming, quiet diplomacy, threatening trade and economic sanctions, and mostly pushing forward for China to be discussed and criticized in high level meetings especially by the United Nations Human Rights Commission held annually in Geneva (Kissinger, 2011). Conclusion The china’s relation with Africa and West has been very critical among scholars of International relations because it brings out important arguments that are useful in this discipline. In addition, the relations have been very beneficial although, some critics argue that some of the actors have stood to benefit more than the others. Despite, these criticisms it is important to emphasize that these relations have helped the countries concerned in one way or another.
Works Cited
Alden, C. (2007). China in Africa, London/New-York, .
Cisse, D. (2012). FOCAC: trade, investments and aid in China-Africa relations. Policy Brief, Centre for Chinese Studies (CCS), Stellenbosch University, South-Africa, pp.1-4.
Cohen, W. (2010). America's response to China: a history of Sino-American relations (5th ed.). New York: Columbia University Press. .
Der Lugt, S. H. (2007). Assessing China’s Role in Foreign Direct Investment in Southern Africa, Centre for Chinese Studies (CCS) report, pp.36-39 .
Gaye, A. (2006). China-Africa-The dragon and the Ostrich (in French), L’Harmattan, Paris.
Kang, D. (2007). China rising: peace, power, and order in East Asia. New York: Columbia University Press.
Kissinger, H. &. (2011). On China. New York: Penguin Press. .
Li, A. (2007). China’s Engagement in Africa- Singular Interest or Mutual Benefit?’ Expert round table on resource governance in Africa in the 21st century, Beijing University, pp.1-5.
Robert, R. (2008). China into Africa: Trade, Aid and Influence, Washington, D.C. and Cambridge, MA, pp. 21-37.
Shinn, D. (2012, 4 23). China’s Investment in Africa,. Retrieved 10 16, 2013, from www.chinausfocus.com
Van Dijk. (2009). The new presence of China in Africa, Amsterdam University Press, pp. 13, 89,151-152.
Wang, Y. (2006). China's grand strategy and U.S. primacy is China balancing American power?. Washington, D.C.: Brookings Institution Center for Northeast Asian Policy Studies. .

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