Author: R. Aidoo.
For over six decades, China’s relationship with Angola has traversed the politics of colonial struggles and the elements of the Cold War to reach its current phase of growing economic diplomacy. The genesis and contours of this relationship continue in the often-told tales involving China’s pendulous shifts among Angola’s three main liberation movements—Movimento Popular de Libertação de Angola (MPLA), União Nacional para a Indêpendencia Total de Angola (UNITA), and Frente Nacional para Libertação de Angola (FNLA)—in the heat of both the Cultural Revolution and Cold War. This part of the relationship was characterized by China’s provision of armaments, military training, and an ideological standoff with the Soviet Union. During this era, Sino-Angola relations were unbridled and downright confusing within the unsettling context of anti-colonial struggle and Cold War politics. With a rocky restoration of formal relations between Beijing and Luanda in 1983, mistrust took a better part of this relationship in the early 1990s with Angola’s descent into a brutal civil war. More interestingly, China’s relations with Angola lingered and matured through out the civil war until 2002, when the shooting stopped. This post-conflict phase of Sino-Angola relations has been characterized by a fundamental shift – from mainly ideological and security politics to economic pragmatism fueled by the dialectics of oil and loans.