The Sino–African Relationship
In the last few decades China has gained more and more international influence, owing primarily to its strong economic growth. Recognizing that China is competing with Western powers such as France, Britain and the United States, who have traditionally been major players in Africa, Beijing has sought to capitalize on its new economic clout by seeking to foster a positive assessment of its motivations. Beijing’s engagement with the African continent seems to be a good testing ground to analyze China’s success in the implementation of its model of soft power. The permeation of the African continent has intensified compared to two decades ago, when the interaction was more limited, making China one of the most important—if not the most important—foreign partners of the formerly “hopeless continent.” In this chapter, the authors not only look at the economic prerogatives that characterize Chinese soft power in Africa, but also analyze its less known aspects, including aid, mass media and telecommunications, and the health sector, concluding that Beijing’s efforts to promote its soft power have been fairly successful. This success, however, has perhaps been most pronounced at the government-to-government level, while support among the general public presents a more mixed picture. The chapter concludes by suggesting that Africa may become a new arena for the developing global competition between China and the United States.