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China and Security Issues in Africa

China and Security Issues in Africa

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Published by dhshinn5947
This is an overview of China's security relations with Africa.
This is an overview of China's security relations with Africa.

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Published by: dhshinn5947 on Sep 23, 2012
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11/06/2012

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1
China and Canada in Africa: Interests, Strategies and African Perspectives
International Development Research CentreOttawa, Canada20-21 September
Peace and Humanitarian Issues
Scene SetterDavid H. ShinnElliott School of International AffairsGeorge Washington University
Introduction
I thank the organizers and especially the China Institute at the University of Alberta forinviting me to participate in this important conference. I want to emphasize that I do notrepresent the U.S. government; my views are my own.China excels in its relations with the fifty African governments that recognize Beijing. Itaccepts whatever government is in power whether it is democratic, autocratic, Islamic, orotherwise. As a result China has cordial relations with all fifty governments that recognize it.China is also quick to recognize new African governments and work with them immediatelyafter regime change. It makes no difference to China how the change occurs.On the other hand, China pays relatively little attention to African civil societyorganizations, independent labor unions and opposition political parties. These groups are oftenanathema to Beijing.
China’s
emphasis is clearly on government to government collaboration.China has some form of security relationship, however modest, with every government inAfrica that recognizes Beijing. When it comes to global security interests, however, Africa is
well down Beijing’s priority list. It is well to bear this in mind at conferences that focus on
Africa and that may give the impression
Africa is at the center of China’s
security policy. NorthAmerica, major European powers and neighboring Ru
ssia head China’s list of security concernsfollowed by all of the countries on China’s periphery and a few in Southeast Asia and the Middle
East that do not have a border with China. Only then does Africa come into the security picturefollowed by Latin America.
 
2It is primarily, but not exclusively, investment in and access to natural resources in Africathat constitute
China’s
security interest in the continent. Over the past two decades, China hassignificantly increased its investment, engagement and influence in Africa. The corollary of thisdevelopment is that it will become increasingly difficult for China to adhere to its long-standingprinciple of noninterference and support for state sovereignty. The first crack in this principle inthe last two decades (there were a number of cracks in the 1960s)
occurred with China’s role,
viewed favorably by the West, in helping to pressure Sudan to accept the hybrid African Union-United Nations peacekeeping operation in Darfur. And that brings me to the subject of peacekeeping.
Peacekeeping
Since the early 1990s, peacekeeping is an area where China has not only workedcooperatively with the United Nations and Africa but also with the West. Following an initialperiod of skepticism about UN peacekeeping operations, China increasingly began to understandthe need of aligning its national interests with those of the global community in enhancingstability. This resulted in greater flexibility by China in responding to requests to engage in UNpeacekeeping. In Liberia, the United States and China even cooperated in building a militarybarracks for UN peacekeepers. About three-quarters of all Chinese peacekeepers are found inoperations in Africa.From a Western perspective, this is an encouraging development. Western preferencesfor democratization, free markets and improved human rights practices impact its approach topeacekeeping. Although China has a different philosophical approach to peacekeeping thatemphasizes political stability and economic development, these philosophical differences havenot deterred China from making a valuable contribution to peacekeeping. Western countriesaccept the need to encourage political stability and economic development, but they believe it isnecessary to go beyond that and promote democratization.Because UN peacekeeping in Africa is sanctioned by the overwhelming majority of African nations, China has concluded that its participation in such operations does not violate thesovereignty of African countries. Partic
ipation in UN peacekeeping demonstrates China’s
policyof 
“peaceful development” and a “harmonious world” and sends the signal that it is acting as a
responsible power,
” a term that it often uses to frame its involvement in UN peacekeeping
.China uses the term responsible power as a way of being seen as a legitimate great power, but onits own terms.This engagement has practical benefits for the
People’s Liberation Army (PLA). It learns
about foreign countries, provides experience in working alongside security forces from othernations and increases its effectiveness in some specialty areas where it has little experience.Engagement in peacekeeping can also help protect Chinese interests in Africa. In Liberia, forexample, Chinese peacekeepers rescued Chinese fishermen from pirates. Finally, peacekeeping
 
3helps to counter Western military power and negative perceptions about growing Chinesemilitary spending.So far, China has participated in fifteen UN peacekeeping missions in Africa. As of theend of August 2012, China had more than 1,500 troops, experts and police assigned to six of 
Africa’s seven UN peacekeeping operations.
This number constitutes more peacekeepers inAfrican missions than any other permanent member of the UN Security Council. The troops arenon-combatants, mostly engineers, logisticians, transport specialists and medical personnel.While China has not yet contributed combat troops to UN peacekeeping operations, it does notappear to have excluded this possibility. Most of them are assigned to Liberia, South Sudan,Darfur and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. On the other hand, China provides onlyabout 4 percent of the UN peacekeeping budget while the United States pays about 27 percent.Canada contributes almost as much as China.China has provided modest financial support for African Union peacekeeping efforts inboth Darfur and Somalia. So far, however, it has eschewed deeper involvement such as thetraining of African Union troops that are participating in these operations.Chinese peacekeepers in Africa have been widely praised. The only sour note has come
from a couple of rebel groups in Sudan’s Darfur 
region that have publicly criticized the presenceof Chinese peacekeepers.
Counter Piracy Operations
A security issue related to peacekeeping is the international anti-piracy operation in theGulf of Aden. Chinese flagged vessels and Chinese crews have been subject to successful
Somali pirate attacks. It is in China’s interest to contribute to the internationa
l effort to endSomali piracy.Since 2008, China has rotated on a continuing basis two frigates and a supply ship insupport of this effort. This represents the PLA Navy
’s first operational deployments beyond the
immediate western Pacific region. Although the Chinese ships operate independently of anycoalition task force, their contribution has been professional and welcomed by the otherparticipants, including the US Navy.
Arms Sales to Africa
Unlike support for peacekeeping and counter-piracy efforts in Africa, which garneralmost universal praise, Chinese arms sales to Africa have encountered a decidedly mixedreaction. African governments, especially those such as Sudan and Zimbabwe facing Westernsanctions, are pleased to have access to Chinese weapons, which are often of good quality andlow cost. Certain g
roups opposing established governments such as the Sudan People’s

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