China in Africa: A Cooperation With Chinese Characteristics

China in Africa: A Cooperation With Chinese Characteristics

Tonny Dian Effendi (Universitas Muhammadiyah Malang, Indonesia) and Devita Prinanda (University of Muhammadiyah Malang, Indonesia)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-1730-7.ch003

Abstract

China's role in Africa: is it really unilateral domination or is it awakened because of the equation of the situation and interests? Then, how are the character, developments, and forms of cooperation? To answer those questions, this chapter uses a concept of inter-regionalism, in which inter-regional cooperation has several objectives namely balancing, bandwagoning, institution building, rationalizing, agenda-setting, and stabilizing. The emerging collaboration gives China an opportunity to introduce a model of interregional cooperation based on its foreign relations. China introduces a mechanism of cooperation based on “Chinese characteristic” which seems different from the Western perspective. China and Africa's interregional cooperation has been developing not only from economic reasons but has also been influenced by international politics. It is an economic cooperation alternative for Africa and international model alternative from the Chinese perspective. The last is influenced by China's international relations behavior which is based on its character.
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Introduction

China and Africa have been establishing long-standing relationships. The Asian-African Conference in Indonesia also strengthened the relationship on the basis of two similarities. Firstly, they were both located in the Asian and African regions that were then against colonialism. Secondly, they also have the same perspective against colonialism. During the Cold War, their relationship continued where China and Africa were, again united by similar situations and problems. African countries are experiencing economic problems and lack of the world's attention, whereas China needs the support from many countries in international politics and faced the “isolation” of Western countries and other Asian countries due to the Communism issue. In the post-Cold War, following China’s economic development, the relationship between China and Africa continued and increased. Even some opinions say that China has to dominate Africa through foreign aid, investment, and trade.

This chapter discusses the history and cooperation building built by China and Africa. Chinese domination in Africa, such as some opinions say, is it really unilateral domination or is it awakened because of the equation of the situation and interests? Then, how are the character, developments, and forms of cooperation? To answer those questions, this chapter uses a concept in the international relations study called interregionalism. In this concept, interregional cooperation has several objectives namely balancing, bandwagoning, institution building, rationalizing, agenda setting, and stabilizing. The initial function of regional cooperation is balancing were the countries in the region are trying to make balancing through their inter-cooperation. The second goal is to put cooperation as an effective way to look strong by conducting alliances. When two objectives are reached, the next goal is to establish a strong cooperation institution to facilitate the dialogue and the continued or enhance the cooperation. This was then strengthened by the agreement that became a mechanism in regional and international cooperation. Agenda setting aims to compile some important issues for example about good governance, liberal democracy, and human right. And lastly is the development of cooperation that leads to economic growth.

When the authors discuss China’s cooperation in Africa from the inter-regionalism concept, the existence of compatibility and incompatibility is observed. In the context of balancing and bandwagoning, history should be referred to. Initially, the cooperation between China and Africa is precisely because they both experience similar situation and problems in international politics. Therefore, at first, the cooperation was not built on the domination of either party. China and Africa at the time, both faced a weak economic situation, which seen negatively from other the international world. Africa was considered as a poor continent with many internal problems, whereas China was seen as poor country (during the Cold War) with the Communism ideology (which is contrary to the most of the world’s countries). Those conditions caused them to cooperate to offset their outside forces (Western and more advanced economies).

Key Terms in this Chapter

Belt and Road Initiative (BRI): A global development strategy adopted by the Chinese government involving infrastructure development and investments in over 150 countries and international organizations in Asia, Europe, Africa, the Middle East, and the Americas.

Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC): An official forum between the People’s Republic of China and all states in Africa (with the exception of Eswatini).

Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS): A regional political and economic union of fifteen countries located in West Africa, which mission is to promote economic integration in industry, international transport, telecommunications, energy, agriculture, natural resources, international trade, monetary and financial, social, and cultural themes.

East African Community: An intergovernmental group formed in 1967, which includes Kenya, Uganda, Burundi, Rwanda and Tanzania, that promotes social and economic cooperation.

African Union (AU): An organization of African states established with an aim to encourage economic development and political stability through increased cooperation between its members.

Southern African Development Community (SADC): An inter-governmental organization which goal is to strengthen socio-economic cooperation and integration as well as political and security cooperation among the countries of southern Africa.

Interregionalism: A situation or process in which two regions or more interact with each other. In another sense, inter-regionalism can be said to be region-region interactions.

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