chapter  9
14 Pages

China–Algeria Relations

Algeria is the largest African country, the centre of Arab presence in North Africa, and a country endowed with a strategic location and remarkable national wealth. It has a GDP purchasing power estimated in 2011 at $264.1 thousand million and an accumulated foreign reserve of $173 thousand million (Table 9.1).1 Algeria’s economy is classified as less performing, with low growth and high unemployment rates, in spite of the country being endowed with plenty of national wealth that includes oil, natural gas, phosphates, iron, uranium, zinc, agriculture, small industries, a skilled labour force and an educated population. Decades of economic mismanagement, inefficient public and private sectors, corruption, civil war and continued domestic instability have wrecked Algeria’s economy. Algeria is China’s most loyal friend, and China is Algeria’s second trading

partner (10.6 percent), second only to France (18 percent), but steadily catching up and expected to surpass it by 2015. Since the 1950s, China has rendered the Algerian people profound sympathy and admiration in their struggle for liberation, and provided political, economic and military support for its independence movement. When in December 1958 the National Liberation Front (FLN) declared the Algerian provisional government, China recognized it within five days and established full diplomatic ties on 20 December 1958, thus becoming the first non-Arab country to recognize Algeria. In 1971 together with Albania, Algeria co-sponsored the motion to restore China’s membership of the United Nations and played a pivotal role in mobilizing international support. Sino-Algerian relations have grown steadily since and withstood six decades of internal upheavals and regional and international crises. China admired Algeria’s fierce war of independence as an example for Third World nations to seek national liberation from Western colonialism. Algeria’s revolution became the core of modern literature on revolutionary

wars, and an example for revolutionaries around the world seeking national liberation. Leading world revolutionary Frantz Fanon joined the FLN, documented the revolution and wrote the most popular literature on national liberation and anti-colonialism, especially in Africa. Fanon reflected on the depth of the Algerian liberation experience and the unwavering determination

of the people to earn their independence by force.2 Such experience captured the hearts and minds of Chinese leaders. Mao, Chou En-lai and China’s foreign affairs ministers Chen Yi, Ji Pengfei and Qiao Guanhua closely followed developments in the Algerian arena. Post WWII, China’s understanding of developments in the Middle East

and North Africa and its understanding of the Algeria War of Independence was inspired by Mao’s intermediate zone theory, in which the Middle East and North Africa represent a middle point where Western powers determined to establish an eternal strong foothold. Their goal is to subjugate Africa and the Middle East on their march towards the Far East. Mao condemned French brutality in Algeria and the American-Western security alliances in the Middle East as instruments of perpetual imperialism in the region. He saw that the West had failed to undermine the socialist world, and understood the Western offensive in the region in terms of an attack on nationalism: ‘as we see it now, their attack is directed against nationalism, that is … against Egypt, Lebanon, and other weak Middle Eastern countries … they want to overthrow Nasser, destroy Iraq, subjugate Algeria, and so on.’3