Author: Jianwei Wang, Jing Zou.
Entering the twenty-first century, particularly under the reign of Hu Jintao, China began to pursue an increasingly pro-active diplomacy in Africa. Most analysis on China's offensive diplomacy in Africa focuses on Beijing's thirst for energy and raw materials, and for economic profits and benefits. That is why it is often called ‘energy diplomacy’ or ‘economic diplomacy’ as if China, just like Japan in the 1980s, became another ‘economic animal’. But if one looks at the history of the PRC's foreign policy, Beijing has seldom pursued its diplomacy from purely economic considerations. Is this time any different? This article exams China's diplomacy in Africa from a strategic and political perspective such as its geo-strategic calculations, political and security ties with African countries, peacekeeping and anti-piracy efforts in the region, support for African regionalism, etc. It argues that China's diplomatic expansion in Africa, while partially driven by its need for economic growth, cannot be fully understood without taking into consideration its strategic impulse accompanying its accelerating emergence as a global power. Africa is one of China's diplomatic ‘new frontiers’ as exemplified by new Chinese leader Xi Jinping's maiden foreign trip to Africa in 2013.