China in Africa: Implications for U.S. Competition and Diplomacy

"China is an increasingly important player in the politics, economic development and security of Africa. Historically, China has prioritized strong diplomatic relations and political ties with African states with an ideological aspiration anchored on the “solidarity among the Third World countries.” However, since 2001, China’s pursuit in the continent has rapidly expanded into the economic arena, focusing on Africa’s rich natural resources to fuel China’s domestic economic growth. China’s growing economic presence in Africa is hardly altruistic and is guided by the principle of “mutual benefits” to both sides. Under the framework of “resources for development,” Beijing mobilizes its vast state financial resources to invest broadly in infrastructure projects across Africa and extract natural resources in return. Moreover, these investments generate multiple layers of benefits for China, including contracts for Chinese service companies, the relocation of labor -intensive, heavy-pollution industries from China, political favors extracted from African governments on foreign policy issues at multilateral forums such as the United Nations, and a positive international image of China being a “responsible stakeholder.” These motivations are particularly true in explaining China’s interests in resource-poor African countries."