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China-Africa relations

CPC Encyclopedia

China-African relations refer to the historical, political, economic, military, social and cultural connections between China and the African continent.

Modern political and economic relations commenced in the Mao era. Starting the beginning of the 21st century, the People's Republic of China has built increasingly stronger economic ties with African nations.

As of Januanry 2012, there are about one million Chinese nationals working in different African countries. Trade between China and Africa has surged to more than $160 billion in 2011 from $10 billion. China is currently Africa's largest trading partner.

Africa is also China's second largest market for project and labor contracts, and the fourth largest destination for overseas investment.

The Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) was established in October 2000 as an official forum to strengthen the relationship.

The Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs emphasises China's development aid to Africa, while also stating that China and Africa are making "joint efforts to maintain the lawful rights of developing countries and push forward the creation of a new, fair and just political and economic order in the world".

China-Africa relations

This Mao-era poster shows African people reading a book written by Mao. The slogan in red Chinese characters reads "Chairman Mao is the great savior of the revolutionary peoples of the world".

The establishment of modern Sino-African relations dates back to the late 1950s when China signed the first official bilateral trade agreement with Algeria, Egypt, Guinea, Morocco and Sudan. Zhou Enlai made a ten-country tour to Africa between December 1963 and January 1964. Relations at that time were often reflective of China's foreign policy in general: China "began to cultivate ties and offer ... economic, technical and military support to African countries and liberation movements in an effort to encourage wars of national liberation and revolution as part of an international united front against both superpower ..."

Since 1997, around 40 African heads of state have visited the PRC. The ministerial meeting, Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC), held in Beijing in October 2000 was the first collective dialogue between the PRC and African nations.

In the past few years, the economic and trade relations have been further developed. The Chinese government made many efforts to create new forms and ways for expanding the existing cooperation on the basis of equality and mutual benefit in the fields of economy and trade.

While continuing to provide them with economic assistance within its capacity and with no political strings attached, China encourages and supports companies and enterprises from both sides engaging in mutual-benefit cooperation and expanding their investment in Africa and increasing the trade volume. The total trade volume between China and Africa reached $10.6 billion in 2000, greatly surpassing that of 1999.

China, noting with concern the heavy debts of African countries, is ready to make its own contribution to help relieve their debt burden. In this connection, China announced for the first time during the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation in 2000 that the Chinese side undertook to reduce or cancel debt amounting to 10 billion RMB yuan owed by the heavily indebted poor countries and least developed countries in Africa in the coming two years.

Their cooperation in education, public health, culture and other fields maintains a good momentum. In addition, both sides have strengthened cooperation in human resources development. Continuing to grant scholarships to African students every year to study in China, the Chinese government hosted various study and training courses to help African countries forming professional contingents. Among which were the classes of advanced-studies for both Chinese and African management personnel and the training courses for young and mid-aged African diplomats. China also organized study-tours for high-ranking African diplomats to visit China and exchange experiences. China announced to establish an African Human Resources Development Fund during the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation in 2000 to help African countries train more professionals of different disciplines. Medical personnel and teachers dispatched to Africa by the Chinese government are widely welcome by the recipient countries and people.