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CHAPTER THREE: HISTORICAL VIEW OF CHINA AND AFRICA
A Short history of China
According to well renowned scholars Garth le Pere and Garth Shelton, “China is an ancient civilization, and a country that has historically always had a strong sense of its identity and place in the world. Chinese Civilization, with a history of 4000 years, has proved itself to be the most enduring and resilient in the world, and hence China is one of the world’s most extraordinary and unique countries. Calling itself the ‘Middle Kingdom’, Chinese tradition and mythology held that their emperors were preordained to rule ‘all under heaven’, in a universe composed of concentric circles, with China forming the core of the natural order.”197
Prior to the 20th century, China’s history is divided into several periods of dynastic rule. These dynasties witnessed different patterns of rule, during which time China rose and fell and experienced periods of growth and decay. “When a dynasty fell, it had lost the ‘Mandate from Heaven’, giving the people the right to rebel: and when another rose, its ability to establish itself was proof that it enjoyed the approval of the gods to inherit the mandate”.198 Imperial China was characterized by misrule, corruption, nomadic invasions, natural disasters and social discontent. The fall of one dynasty was replaced with another vigorous and seemingly self-assured dynasty. Among the main successes of the Qin Dynasty, (which ended in 221 B.C) was its ability to unify China, standardize a system of writing and the standardization of weights and measurements. Significantly, it was during this period that the Great Wall was completed.
In the Han Dynasty (206 BC and AD 220), Confucianism became the official state doctrine and an examination system for selecting elite government officials was established. The Han period also allowed ethnic Chinese to expand beyond the Yellow River cradle area into the rich Yangzi valley to the south. The collapse of the Han dynasty was followed by four centuries of division and disruption until the country was politically reunited under the Sui Dynasty in 590. The Sui Dynasty was distinguished by a period of great engineering and construction of the ancient world – the 2000 kilometer long Grand Canal linking north China with the Yangzi valley to the south.199
The next 500 years were known as Tang (618-906) and Northern Song (960-1126), commonly referred to as China’s ‘medieval flowering’ period.200 During this period China experienced great advances in agricultural production, water management, improved seed variation, better fertilization and establishment of public administration and institutions of government. However, this period came to end in 1279 with the first invasion of the Mongol conquerors, Genghis Khan and his grandson Kublai Khan. Although the Mongol’s were great conquerors, they proved to be poor rulers. Their dynasty only lasted a century (1279-1367)201.
The Opium Wars
The Opium Wars (1839-1860), caused by British merchants illegal trade in opium, are regarded by the Chinese as a period of ‘great humiliation’. After losing both wars, The Qing Dynasty was forced to tolerate opium trading and to sign the treaties of Nanjing and Tianjin that opened Chinese ports to international trade. Hong Kong was occupied and further territorial concessions were made to the British. Similar treaties were signed between other powers and China, including Japan, which occupied Taiwan in 1895 following a short Sino-Japanese war.
China’s humiliation by the ‘unequal treaties’ with European powers created domestic unrest against the powerless Qing Dynasty leading to the Taiping (1850-64) and Boxer (1899-1901) rebellions. This led in 1911 to the overthrow of the monarchy and the official proclamation of the Republic of China on 1 January 1912 by Chinese nationalist Sun Yat Sen. The control of the Kuomintang (SunYat Sen’s National Party) over Chinese territory, was tenuous leading to civil strife organized by provincially based Chinese war lords. General Chiang Kai-shek attempted in the late 1920s to reunite China under Kuomintang rule but was repelled by opposition forces including Mao’s Communist Party of China (CPC). The Kuomintang and the Communists joined forces in 1931 to fight Japan after it invaded Manchuria. With the withdrawal of the Japanese after the Second World War in 1945, civil war broke out once again. The Chinese Communist Party controlled most of China and drove the Kuomintang into retreat to Taiwan (which the Japanese had been forced to hand back to China at the end of the Second World War). Thereafter Mao Zedong established the People’s Republic of China, under the rule of the CPC on 1 October 1949.
Mao and Revolutionary China
Mao Zedong’s dominated China’s political landscape from 1949 until his death in 1976. Although Mao succeeded in unifying the country and establishing the CPC, he failed in delivering its main goal, economic development. Mao adapted his economic model from its key ally the Soviet Union, which turned out to be disastrous, especially in rural China. Mao’s ideas evolved through different phases but it was limited by the ideological imperatives of the permanent social revolution.
The first phase saw the launch of the first five year plan which emphasized both the reconstruction of the heavy industrial complex and a socialist rural reform programme. This led to the nationalization of all private property, similar to the Soviet model. All links with capitalist countries were either summarily ended or severed, resulting in China becoming increasingly dependent on Moscow. However, in the 1950s, the ideological tension between Beijing and Moscow led to China competing with the Soviet Union for leadership of the communist movement, particularly the newly independent countries in Asia and Africa.
Because of the command economy’s increasing inefficiency and its unsustainable production levels for a growing urban population, Mao adopted a more radical approach from 1959 to 1961 which he called a ‘Great Leap Forward’. The Great Leap Forward was designed to engender self-sufficiency by transferring all labor to the national development project in rural communities.
However this failed and in fact it further impoverished the country, leading in the latter years to famine202. Opposition grew among intellectuals and purges followed, leading to a dark period in Chinese history known as the ‘Cultural Revolution”, which lasted from 1966 to 1976. During this period China’s economic situation deteriorated. Its population experienced massive starvation pushing the country on brink of disaster.
The end of the Cultural Revolution was declared in 1969, but it was only after Mao’s death that the conflicts and tensions began to diminish. During this period, China’s domestic situation was fraught by turmoil, while its foreign relations were beginning to stabilize. The PRC’s admission to the United Nations in 1971, with the support of many African states, led to a period of normal relations with the West that had important implications for China’s development.203
Deng Xiaoping and the ‘Opening’ and Reforms in China
With the death of Mao and the dismissal of the Gang of Four, a moderate faction under Deng Xiaoping took gradual control of the CPC. Deng Xiaoping pursued a reformist path to development. The ‘Four Modernization’ reform initiatives initiated by Chinese Foreign Minister Zhou Enlai in the 1960s, included industry, national defense, science and technology.
These ‘modernizations’ were written into the Chinese constitution and became the bedrock from which China developed into a modern and powerful socialist state.
The third plenary session of the Central Committee of the CPC in December 1978 approved these reforms within the context of the gradual opening up to the outside world. The agricultural sector began the reformation with the ending of the People’s Communes and the establishment of the rural household responsibility system based on a 15 year land lease. This allowed households to sell a significant part of their production in the market, creating a new-found demand for production. With improvements in technology and increased production, there was an expansion in the labor market, fuelling migration to urban centers. This resulted in the expansion of the light labour industry204. The second phase of reforms focused on the coastal urban centers which addressed the preferential fiscal investments policies and international trading rights.205
Three decades of economic backwardness under Maoism was compared to the economic successes of Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macau. Deng Xiaoping included these territories into his reform strategy under the ‘one China, two systems’ project. Deng Xiaoping aimed to preserve the liberal economic structures that engendered their success. Furthermore, the first Chinese Special Economic Zones (SEZs) – Shenzhen, Xiamen, Shantou – were created in 1980 and were established around Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan.
The intention was to benefit from their access to the world market and to reduce the income gap between those and the new SEZs so as to allow for a smooth reintegration. These SEZs opened up China’s markets gradually, avoiding disruptions in the system, as had happened in the Soviet Union206. In aiming to quickly establish a vibrant export-led light industry through foreign investment, technology, China wanted an outlet for its production to the outside world.
During these changes, Chinese socialism underwent transformation in order to bypass the contradictions and to instill a new ideological framework that would accommodate the Marxist ideological tendency. Deng introduced the ‘Socialism with Chinese Characteristics’ policy during the 12th National Party Congress in September 1982. Deng’s reformist tendencies are best captured in his celebrated statement: “it does not matter whether the cat is black or white as long as it catches mice”.207 According to Deng the “goal is to have the best of both worlds: the freedom of private initiative and the administration and regulatory power of the state.”208
During the 3rd plenary session of the 12th CPC Central Committee convened in 1984, the CPC approved a resolution that expanded economic reform by launching the foundation of a planned economy based on public ownership. The focus was to restructure production forces in the urban areas. The first state owned enterprises (SOE) were given autonomy during this period, and gradually public entities began listing on the world stock exchanges. The private sector grew rapidly and foreign entities began investing in China through joint ventures. Private and foreign capital was encouraged to invest in most sectors except for electricity, oil, telecommunications and defense, where the Communist party had absolute control.
The Tiananmen protest in June 1989, led by students and other groups, resulted in a widespread government crackdown. US and European countries reacted by imposing sanctions. However, Deng continued on his reformist path and argued that a market economy was compatible with both capitalism and socialism and urged the Chinese to increase the pace of the economic reforms. During the 14th National Congress of the CPC in 1992, Deng emphasized that the main aim of his policies was the creation of a socialist market economy with a central and macro regulatory role for the state.209
Part of the modernization policy saw the reorganization of the education system which led to thousands of Chinese students and researchers being sent to America and European universities to acquire knowledge and technological expertise that were critical for China.210
With the death of Deng Xiaoping in September 1997, Jiang Zemin came to power and at the 15th National Congress he committed to deepening the economic reforms process. By this time China had emerged as the largest global production platform and the largest emerging market.
In 2002, Hu Jintao championed a policy for greater integration into the global economy by urging China to surpass the export-led model. This would mean that China’s new economic strategy would expand globally on two major fronts – trade and investments.
Period of Isolation between China and Africa 1949-1955
From October 1949 until the end of the Korean War (1950-1953), the newly founded PRC under Mao Zedong, was preoccupied with a number of domestic and external problems which precluded China from actively pursuing its foreign policy211. This also excluded engagement with the African continent. In the first PRC’s plenary session of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, it stated that “the principle of the foreign policy of the People’s Republic of China is protection of the independence, freedom, integrity of territory and sovereignty of the country”212. During this period its foreign policy was mainly dominated by stabilizing China’s borders with her surrounding neighbors, for example Manchuria and Tibet213. On the domestic front, China was preoccupied with unifying the Chinese people under the Communist Party and “began a process of the reorganization of Chinese society”.214 Chinese scholars have characterized this period as an attempt to ‘bury thoroughly old humiliations in the country’s foreign affairs’215.
As stated earlier there was very little contact with African peoples except with South Africa. In fact South Africa is one of the only documented countries during this period that provided an African visitor to Beijing. Walter Sisulu, the Secretary General of the African National Congress (ANC) was apparently impressed by the Chinese government and was a great admirer of Mao.216 It is important to note that not one of the four independent African countries at the time, Egypt, Ethiopia, Liberia and South Africa recognized the Beijing government217. Any official contact between these countries in the post-revolution, pre-Bandung period was negligible. However in 1951, a Chinese delegation did visit Cairo to attend a joint meeting of the Universal Postal Union and the International Air Transport Association.218
Bandung Conference – revival period for China and Africa
The Asian-African Conference, convened in Bandung, Indonesia between 18-24 April 1955, was a milestone in China–Africa relations. Twenty nine countries attended the conference, of which six were African – Egypt, Ethiopia, Ghana, Liberia, Libya and Sudan219. The only independent ruler attending the Conference at the time was President Nasser of Egypt. There were a number of discussions between Beijing and Cairo and Zhou Enlai, the foreign Minister at the time, extended an open invitation to the Egyptian delegates to visit Beijing220. This led to the establishment of a trade agreement between Egypt and China on 22 August 1955 and Egypt became the first African country to establish relations with Communist China in 1956221. Sudan was the second country to recognize Communist China on 4 February 1959.
Some scholars argue that the Asia-Africa Conference was significant in that it marked the start of a definite interest by the PRC in Africa and in the developing world in general. Others argue that “Africa was relatively unimportant to China at Bandung”222. This period, dubbed ‘the Bandung Era’, saw the beginning of China’s involvement in Africa and the anti-colonial struggles developing on the continent became definite. During this conference, the Afro-Asian solidarity adopted the five principles of peaceful coexistence223 as their foundation224. These principles were:225
1. Mutual respect for sovereign and territorial integrity
2. Mutual non-aggression
3. Non-interference in each other’s internal affairs
4. Equality and mutual benefit
5. Peaceful coexistence
These five principles were later extended to eight principles and as Brautigam observes, these principles still reflect how China operates in Africa today226. These eight principles will be discussed later in Chapter Six.
In 1956, the Department of West Asian and African Affairs was established by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. According to Ian Taylor, “the change in nomenclature reflects the perceived growing in strength of anti-colonialism and the importance that China attached to this development”227.
A few years after the Bandung conference, a wave of independence movements began to spread across the African continent and many colonial states in Africa gained independence. The PRC provided funds and supplies, as well as advisors, to several independence movements and also to some of the nations that were facing great opposition from their colonial masters e.g. Zimbabwe’s African National Union (ZANU)228. China’s engagements in Africa were still limited to diplomatic engagements and were rather superficial in nature. However this changed in 1955 when a trade delegation from Egypt led by the Minister of Commerce and Industry, Mohammed Abu Nosseir, visited China and signed a three year Trade Agreement.229 Shortly after that, the PRC extended an aid project to Guinea.230 Diplomatic ties with Guinea were established in 1959 and in 1960 China advanced an interest free loan to the country for the construction of a cigarette and match factory in the country231.
During this period, China concentrated on North Africa countries, in particularly Algeria and Egypt. In Algeria, the Chinese issued propaganda on behalf of anti-French rebels and supplied
the FLN with weapons and training in their fight against the French colonial power.232 At the same time, China began developing strong trade relations with Nasser’s Egypt by purchasing large amounts of cotton from the country. The following countries established diplomatic ties with China: Morocco on 1 November 1958, Algeria on 20 December 1958 and Sudan on 4 February 1959 respectively233. By 1957, Chinese attendance at international conferences was the main avenues by which Beijing developed linkages with Africa: the first Afro-Asian People’s Solidarity Conference held in Egypt, followed in April 1958 by the First Conference of Independent African States in Ghana234. By 1959, Chinese interest in the continent had rapidly increased, with ten Chinese delegations visiting Africa, while in 1960 the number had doubled to 25 and by 1962 this number was 52235.
Between 1960 and 1965 the PRC entered into relations with 14 newly independent African states: Ghana, Mali, Somalia (1960); Zaire (1961); Uganda (1962); Burundi, Kenya (1963); Benin, Central African Republic, Congo (Brazzaville), Tanzania, Tunisia, Zambia (1964); and Mauritania (1965). On the international front, the Soviet Union stopped its aid to China due to differences in communist ideologies.236 Furthermore, Taiwan still occupied its seat at the United Nations (UN). With the withdrawal of the Soviet Union and the support for Taiwan from the USA, as well as the economic embargo on the PRC237, China worked hard to gain influence on the international stage by establishing diplomatic ties with the newly independent African countries. In 1971, the PRC gained its UN seat with the support of its allies, most of which were the newly independent African countries.238
According to Ian Taylor, secret army documents obtained in 1961 indicate that China viewed “the revolution situation in Africa in the long-term and Chinese activities in the 1960s can be seen to be aimed at this. Africa was evidently regarded as a key point of world interest”239. In 1960, Sekou Toure of Guinea became the first African head of state to visit China.240 His visit was a turning point in Chinese policy towards Africa as Beijing for the first time committed itself to economic and technical aid to a newly independent African state.241
By the end of 1963, Zhou Enlai, China’s foreign minister embarked on a ten-nation tour of Africa. The main purpose of his tour was firstly to strengthen China’s policies in Africa, secondly to promote the Bandung conference, and finally to promote the PRC’s anti-Soviet policies and persuade African countries to marginalize Moscow from attending the conference.
In 1964, the Eight Principles of foreign aid were established. These eight principles were drawn from the five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence that the Afro-Asian solidarity adopted in 1955 in Indonesia. Not only did these new principles begin a new era in China-Africa relations then, but they also provide guidance for China’s foreign aid today. The Eight Principles of foreign aid are:
1. Emphasize equality and mutual benefit
2. Respect sovereignty and never attach conditions
3. Provide interest-free or low-interest loan. Help recipient countries develop independence and self-reliance
5. Build projects that require little investment and can be accomplished quickly
6. Provide quality equipment and material at market prices
7. Ensure effective technical assistance
8. Pay experts according to local standards242.
After the establishment of the Eight Principles of foreign aid, China’s aid programme expanded rapidly to many other African countries: Tunisia, Congo, Zambia, Tanzania and Ghana in 1964; Mauritania, Uganda in 1965; Equatorial Guinea and Ethiopia in 1970; Nigeria, Rwanda, Cameroon, Sierra Leone and Burundi in 1971; Mauritius, Togo, Madagascar, and Benin in 1973; Gabon in 1974; Botswana, Mozambique, Comoros in 1975; Cape Verde, and Seychelles in 1976.
By the late 1970s, China provided aid to forty-three African countries.243 These aid programmes were established in the form of interest free loans, grants combined with loans, and also the construction of a number of infrastructure projects. The interest free loan offered to Zambia and Tanzania in 1967 for the construction of the Tan-Zam Railway (1967-1976) is a good example of such a loan244. The Chinese also provided these African countries with technical support both in terms of know-how as well as skilled technicians, to work with and train Africans to build bridges, hospitals, schools and roads245.
Furthermore, China provided diplomatic support as well as military support as well as material provisions for training of the liberation movements. Rising anti-colonialism, and growing tensions with the Soviet Union, saw China involved in the politics of the Cold War in Africa. Twenty eight African countries supported Beijing’s bid for a permanent seat in the UN Security Council in 1971, which it was able to secure. This accounts for 34 per cent of the General Assembly votes. By 1976, only thirty nine states recognized the government in Beijing and only eight had diplomatic ties with Taipei.246 Beijing commenced the normalization of diplomatic relations with African countries and the extension of economic assistance to selected governments, irrespective of their ideological orientation as long as they accepted the one-China policy.
TABLE OF CONTENT
List of Figures
List of Abbreviations
CHAPTER ONE: INTRODUCTION
1.2 Motivation for the study
1.3 Literature review
1.4 Research question
1.5 The study’s objectives
1.6 The theoretical framework
1.7 The limitations of this study
1.8 Research methodology
1.9 Structure of the study
1.10 Concluding Remarks
CHAPTER TWO:THEORETICAL AND CONCEPTUAL BACKGROUND
2.2 Realism: National interest as a key component
2.3 Joseph Nye’s Soft Power
2.4 Economic Nationalism
2.5 ‘Rising Power’ as a manifestation of power relations
2.6 Chapter Conclusion
CHAPTER THREE: HISTORICAL VIEW OF CHINA AND AFRICA
3.1 A Short history of China
3.2 The Opium Wars
3.3 Mao and Revolutionary China
3.4 Deng Xiaoping and the ‘Opening’ and Reforms in China
3.5 Period of Isolation between China and Africa 1949-1955
3.6 Bandung Conference – revival period for China and Africa
3.7 Deng Xiaoping’s “open door” policy towards Africa
3.8 China’s ‘Going out Strategy’
CHAPTER FOUR: THE INTERACTION BETWEEN CHINA’S STATUS AS A RISING POWER AND ITS USE OF SOFT POWER
4.2 Discussions of Soft Power in China
4.3 China as a Rising Power
4.4 Rise to power
4.5 Peaceful Rise and Development
4.6 Peaceful Development (Heping Fazhan)
4.7 Harmonious world
4.8 Chapter Summary
CHAPTER FIVE: ECONOMIC ASPECTS OF CHINA’S SOFT POWER IN AFRICA
5.2 Energy and Resources
5.4 Chapter Conclusion
CHAPTER SIX: How China Uses Political Soft Power in Africa
6.2 Non-interference, the respect for sovereignty and human rights as China’s relationship policy issues in Africa
6.3 How China uses political soft power in Africa: Four areas.
6.4 China’s instrument of soft power in Africa: Political outreach
6.5. Chapter Conclusion
CHAPTER SEVEN: CONCLUSION
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