Handbooks of Research on Contemporary China series
Edited by Carla P. Freeman
Chapter 15: The China-Africa connection: an ambiguous legacy?
China’s new Premier Li Keqiang visited Africa from May 4 to May 11, 2014, taking in Ethiopia, Nigeria, Angola, and Kenya, as well as the headquarters of the African Union in Addis Ababa – whose spectacular new secretariat and conference complex was a USD 200 million gift from the Chinese government. Premier Li’s visit was substantive but also highly symbolic since it was planned to coincide with the fiftieth anniversary of Premier Zhou Enlai’s celebrated tour of ten African countries over 55 days in late 1963 to early 1964. Premier Zhou’s tour, during which he averred that Africa’s revolutionary prospects were ‘excellent,’ has been widely acclaimed as laying the foundation for China-Africa relations, which subsequent leaders have been able to build upon and consolidate. Zhou articulated five principles which would guide China’s relations with Africa and eight guidelines for defining aid, all grounded within a philosophical remit of equality, mutual benefit, and non-interference that have continued to be the essential leitmotifs of China’s Africa policy up to the present. Indeed, Li echoed these principles in his remarks at the African Union Conference Center when he described the Sino-African relationship as one guided by enduring principles such that ‘Neither [side] . . . has . . . interfered in each other’s internal affairs . . . both stand for resolving problems arising from cooperation through equal consultation.
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