Japan and China's Summit Competition in Africa
Japan and China play a dual role in Africa. Firstly, they both have direct relationships with Africa, as two of the continent’s most important development partners. Two massive, recurring summits provide the main platform for the staging of these relationships between China or Japan on the one side, and Africa on the other – in this policy insight they are labelled ‘Africa Plus One’ summits. Secondly, China and Japan are both global economic superpowers that also set global norms and priorities in forums such as the G20. This policy insight looks at how the Africa Plus One summits are an unexpected avenue for African concerns into the G20. China and Japan provide a useful comparison because they both put on regular Africa Plus One summits. This policy insight asks how Africa Plus One summits affect the continent’s ability to be heard in the G20. Conversely, how have the national priorities that Japan and China promoted in their respective G20 presidencies shaped the interaction between the G20 and Africa? It traces the flow of themes and ideas between Africa Plus One summits and the G20, showing that in some cases this interplay leads to a greater say for Africa in the G20, for example around industrialisation and skills transfer. The policy insight uses two case studies to examine these dynamics. It shows that in taking different stances on infrastructure provision, China and Japan both influenced the trajectory of the G20 via its engagement with African infrastructure needs. In the second case study, it shows that China and Japan’s competing visions of Indian Ocean connectivity crucially draw on African participation. This offers a glimpse of new forms of alliance building expanding into the future. However, it also raises more fundamental questions about how Africa can engage more directly with the G20.