Highlights on China’s relationships with Africa

Irene Giner-Reichl/Christof Tatschl


China still feels to be a developing country and describes itself as such - with a population of more than 1.3 billions of people it is the largest developing country of the world. Since the 1980ies China has admittedly liberated about 700 millions of people from extreme poverty. The average life expectancy was raised from 35 (1949) to 76 (2015). China has the globally biggest social security system. Whereas 1949 still 80% of the population had been illiterates, in 2015 practically all children in China had elementary education, 93% had finished the compulsory nine school years, and 87 % attended high school. The United Nations attested China rank 90 (out of 188 countries) in the Human Development Index. With less than 10% of fertile soil China feeds more than 20% of the world’s population. Development is considered - as is expressed explicitly in the White Paper of the Chinese State Council of December 2016 - the key for the solution of all problems. As the next objective, the Chinese government locates modest prosperity for all by the end of 2020. Furthermore, by the mid of the 21st century, China is supposed to have achieved the status of a fully developed Country. The 13th five-year plan (2016-2020) is to make China ecological and innovative. More than in other countries, the Chinese foreign policy represents a function of these home policy objective targets. It is necessary to create the general conditions. For China, Africa is a test case for how to extend one’s influence in all areas. This holds true for the area economy, but also for security - vide Djibouti, UN-missions, arms trading, and the existing comprehensive bilateral programs concerning military cooperation. The Chinese cooperation with Africa is distinctly on a stronger basis than that of the EU with Africa, and the African countries seem to prefer the Chinese approach. Getting ample assistance and being able to rely on a united African continent is also for the UN of special importance. We look at the involvement in Africa as a stage on the way towards realisation of the Chinese claim to further extend its global leadership in a multi-polar world without common values.