Author: Ian Taylor.
The People's Republic of China's (PRC's) policy
towards Africa in the
1990s has its roots in the crisis surrounding the Tiananmen Square
crackdown on 4 June 1989, and the heavy and persistent criticism by
the developed world levelled against Beijing's human rights record
since that date. Previous to this, the importance of the African
continent to China had become less and less important in the 1980s, as
the Cold War underwent a thawing process and China's modernisation
project demanded foreign investment and technological assistance.
Though Chinese officials paid rhetorical lip service to such issues as
South–South co-operation, the reality of the situation was that Beijing
was mainly interested in maintaining intimate relations with those
countries from which it could benefit economically. In stark contrast to
China's position in the 1960s and 1970s, exhortations and propaganda
grounded in Maoist foundations disappeared, for the ‘socialist
modernisation’ project of Deng Xiaoping demanded economic investment
and a non-conflictual approach to international politics. As a
result, non-ideological relations with the United States, Western
Europe and Japan based on expanding trade links and co-operation
took a priority in China's foreign policy formulation.