Ending Taiwan’s official diplomatic presence and replacing it with recognition of
Increasing significantly China’s exports as African economies become stronger
and Africans become wealthier.Looking at these four interests in sequence, China imports about one-third of itstotal oil imports from Africa. It is important, however, to keep this in perspective.
China’s imports constitute only about 13 percent of total African oil exports while th
eUnited States and Europe each import about one-
third of Africa’s total oil exports
because of their higher total demand. China is, however, interested in more than Africanoil. It imports large quantities of cobalt, manganese, tantalum, bauxite, iron ore, and coalfrom Africa. These imports of raw materials from Africa and other parts of the world
sustain China’s rapidly growing economy. Without strong economic growth, the current
leadership of the Chinese Communist Party would be hard pressed to remain in power.China has a long-term strategic interest in African natural resources.
-four countries constitute well over one-quarter of the United
Nations’ 193 members. While China holds a veto power in the Security Council, Africa
has three non-permanent seats on the Council. Africa is also well represented inorganizations of interest to China like the UN Human Rights Council and the WorldTrade Organization. The Africans do not, of course, vote as a block, but China makesevery effort to cultivate the maximum number of African countries on all issues of interest to Beijing that arise in international forums. In some cases, like-minded Africangovernments use the Chinese just as the Chinese use them, for example when contentiousissues affecting China or a particular African nation arise in the Human Rights Council.When Tibet became an issue in 2008, China leaned on the Africans to remain silent oreven make supportive statements. They did. African countries can depend on China toavoid raising controversial African human rights issues in the Human Rights Council andperhaps even to support them when they are criticized by western countries.The position of Taiwan in Africa is more important to China than most observersappreciat
e. Beijing has never retreated from its insistence on the “One China” policy.
Equally important, China has never forgotten the fact that African states were
instrumental in 1971 in replacing Taiwan with the People’s Republic of China on the
United Nations Security Council. Only four African countries
Swaziland, BurkinaFaso, Gambia and Säo Tomé and Principe
still have diplomatic relations with Taiwan.Near the end of 2008, following the election of a new president in Taiwan, Taipei andBeijing reached an unofficial truce whereby they agreed not to actively solicit countriesthat recognize one country to switch to the other.
In 2009, China passed the United States and became Africa’s most important
trade partner. It retains that title; in 2011, China-Africa trade totaled $150 billion.
Nevertheless, only about 4 percent of China’s global trade is with Africa while more than13 percent of Africa’s trade is with China. Except for 2009, when Africa had a large
trade deficit with China, there has generally been a balance over the past decade. Thereare, however, large country-by-country disparities. Some fifteen African oil and mineralexporters have large surpluses with China, while more than thirty African countries,including the poorest ones, have significant deficits. Five African oil and mineralexporting nations account for about 78
percent of Africa’s exports to China.