Is China Good for Africa?: China and Africa Today
|[See part 1, and part 2.]|
In 2006, the Chinese government released an official paper entitled "China's African Policy" which states China's "principles and objectives" in Africa. Briefly summarized, the "African Policy" emphasizes fostering mutually beneficial relationships with African countries both economically and geo-politically while respecting each other's sovereignty and not interfering in each other’s internal affairs. This policy echoes many of the "Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence" that were introduced by the People's Republic of China in the mid-1950s during a negotiation summit with India and have remained the basis for much of China's foreign policy ever since. The "Five Principles" are (1) mutual respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity, (2) mutual non-aggression, (3) non-interference in each other's internal affairs, (4) equality and mutual benefit, and (5) peaceful coexistence. Or as they were recently explained by Zhou Wengzong, Chinese Ambassador to the United States, "China treats all countries as equals regardless [of] their size, wealth or strength; China makes independent judgment on the merit of each international issue and takes [a] position accordingly; China does not draw lines along ideology and social system in handling its relations with other countries, or impose its values on others; China does not enter into alliance with any country or country group; does not interfere in other countries' internal affairs, or allow others to interfere in its own internal affairs; China opposes hegemonism and power politics and will never seek hegemony; China will continue to call for respect for the rights of countries to choose their own social systems and roads of development and advocate dialogues and exchanges between different civilizations."
One of the "Five Principles", "non-interference in each other’s internal affairs", is a dual-use concept that China uses both as an excuse to avoid pressuring their business partners on human rights shortcomings (e.g., Sudan, Zimbabwe) and as support for China's assertion that no other countries have the right to criticize China's own poor human rights record. One of the tenets of China's African Policy is "Mutual support and close coordination: China will strengthen cooperation with Africa in the UN and other multilateral systems". This policy has manifested itself repeatedly in the United Nations where China has stood in the way of action being taken against violators of international law, like Sudan and Iran. China, in addition to keeping its partners open for business, also gets broad support from these countries to avoid improving its own human rights abuse record.