The huge growth of Chinese interests in Africa is the most significant development for the continent since the end of the cold war. Currently, china is Africa’s largest bilateral trading partner much of which is underpinned by the desire to obtain raw materials and energy for china’s ongoing economic growth. it is of no doubt that china is the world’s second-largest oil importer and second-largest consumer of African resources all of which are abundant in this continent. The question that begs is; is china-Africa a mutually benefiting relationship?
Chinese foreign policy in Africa is based on self interests one of which is ensuring its regime security through access to abundant resources in Africa. To achieve this, it has portrayed itself as the advocate of the developing world in the context of South-South cooperation. Yes, this is a south-south cooperation in which china has emerged as the North of the south. China is now an emerging power that is becoming greater everyday and therefore has to appreciate that it can no longer hide behind the notion of poor developing state.
While china has an African policy for pragmatic cooperation with Africa, Africa doesn’t have a China policy. Lack of a consistent and unified policy hampers Africa’s ability to compete and determine the terms of engagement. Thus, rather than working as a bloc, it continues to negotiate with china on a country-by-country basis which apparently is the preference of china to engage in bilateral dealings. In this regard, as a collective unit, Africa has little negotiating power over china.
Akin to the above problem is the fact that Africa has retained its status of exporting raw materials while importing manufactured products from china. Actually, majority of African markets are flooded with cheap Chinese household products that have discouraged indigenous African manufacturing. It is such scenario that has consigned the African continent to underdevelopment.
Yes, FOCAC as an institution was carefully crafted to give the impression that all is well between the Sino-African relations, but no, all is not well. Unless the African Union heads of States come together in striking a deal towards establishing manufacturing industries in Africa, then dependency and underdevelopment shall continue to be terms coterminous with Africa.