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Formation of the relations between China and the African continent

Wednesday, March 16, 2011 - 14:28

The modern world is the era of changes, in which China, having been declared as the 2010 second economy in the world, is confidently moving to the status of the world economic leader. The creation of the most powerful economy in the world is impossible without the support of the resource base of the economy. If to talk about China it is, first of all, energy. So while in 1999 China imported 15-20% of its oil, at the present time, the share is approaching to 80%. Searching for accessible and cheap raw materials, PRC leadership turned its attention to the "Black Continent" that now has peripheral places in the world economy and the world politics.
In recent years, China actually made a breakthrough in the opening up the African continent and increased its presence through various mechanisms of cooperation. While the leading world countries talk about the things that should be done to create a vibrant political, economic and business relations with Africa, China is persistently acting in this direction. And taking into consideration that Beijing does not only use natural resources of Africa, but also deliberately creates a market of its products and services, one can say with certainty about the priority of "African direction" for China's foreign policy with confidence.
The modern relations between China and the countries of the African continent can be considered to begin in April 1955 after the conference of 29 countries of Asia and Africa in Bandung (Indonesia).
During this conference the Prime Minister Zhou Enlai first met the leaders of the African states (Egypt, Ethiopia, Libya, Sudan, Liberia and Ghana). After the Conference China stepped up contacts with the countries of the continent, and on May 30, 1956 the Joint Communiqué about the establishment of diplomatic relations was signed with Egypt.
Thus, Egypt became the first African country which established diplomatic relations with Chine. Since then, the number of these countries continues to grow. After Egypt, the diplomatic relations were established with Algeria (in 1958, 4 years before the declaration of independence of the country), Morocco, Sudan and Guinea.
Further development of China's relations with the countries of the continent was prevented by the difficult international situation, and also the beginning of the Cultural Revolution in China (1966 and 1976). China was in a state of confrontation with Western countries (respectively, it could not establish relations with African regimes), but at the same time relations with the USSR (and consequently with loyal Soviet states) worsened significantly.
In the early 60s there were two important events that contributed to enhance Sino-African relations. A historic visit of Prime Minister Zhou Enlai to 10 African countries was taking place from December 1963 until February 1964. During the visit, five principles of the development of political relations between China and countries of the continent were formed:
1. To support the people of all African countries in their struggle against the imperialists, colonialists and neocolonialists in order to win and to preserve national independence;
2. To maintain a policy of peace, neutrality and non-alignment of the African countries;
3. To support the efforts of the African countries to gain solidarity and unity using the means chosen by the countries of the continent, and also to support their efforts to settle differences through peaceful negotiations;
4. To demand from other countries to respect the sovereignty of the African countries;
5. To fight against aggression and other forms of foreign interference.
The second important event was the recognition of China by France in 1964. This fact allowed establishing relations with a number of francophone countries on the continent. Thus, in the 60s China established diplomatic relations with 14 African countries and their total number became 19.
The 70s were characterized by a certain contradictions of Chine in the African Policy: on the one hand China started rapprochement with the western countries, which allowed establishing good relations with the states loyal to the West, and on the other it remained a staunch supporter of anti-colonialism, which helped to win those African States that were in the interests of the USSR. This explains the paradoxical situation: in Angola China in cooperation with the U.S. supported UNITA fighting against the Soviet-Cuban bloc, and at the same time in Tanzania and Zambia, China provided military support to the front of the struggle against apartheid.
An important positive factor, that greatly strengthened the authority of the PRC in the world in general and in Africa was the adoption of the UN resolution number 2758 dated October 25, 1971 about "the restoring of the legitimate rights" of China for permanent membership in the UN Security Council instead of Taiwan. Thus, in the 70s China established diplomatic relations with 25 African states and their total number became 44.
China managed to establish relations with the largest number of African States at the end of the 80s – there were 47 of the 51 independent countries. At the same time the relations were improved with Ethiopia, Somalia, Angola, Mozambique and Madagascar, and the cooperation with Tanzania, Zambia, Zaire, Gabon, Benin, Mali, Ghana and Guinea was significantly intensified.
The 90s were characterized by significant geopolitical changes in the world, under which the PRC dramatically intensified the African direction of its foreign policy. Visits to Africa at the highest levels became more frequent, and during the visit to Africa of the President Yang Shangkun in July 1992, 6 new principles identifying the relations between China and the countries of the continent were formed:
1. China supports African countries in their efforts to preserve the sovereignty and independence, in the struggle against external interference and to develop economic growth;
2. China respects the political system selected by African countries and the way of development in accordance with their national conditions;
3. China supports African countries in an effort to intensify mutual cooperation and solve conflicts through peaceful negotiations;
4. China appreciates the efforts made by the OAU to maintain the stability on the African continent and to achieve economic integration;
5. China supports all the efforts of the African countries to participate in international affairs as full members of the international community and in establishing a new economic and political world order;
6. China is ready to develop friendly relations and economic cooperation with African countries.
In the period since 1995, just after the declaration of independence diplomatic relations with China were established by Namibia and Eritrea. Also the relations with South Africa were established and the relations with the CAR and Guinea-Bissau were renewed. However, relations with 6 states severed: they are Burkina Faso, Gambia, Senegal, Sao Tome and Principe, Chad and Liberia, which then established relations with Taiwan. Diplomatic relations with Malawi and Swaziland were never established.
Thus, at the end of the 90s China maintained diplomatic relations with 45 countries of the African continent out of 53.

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