April 1, 2019
Strengthening Africa’s peace and security architecture should underpin the next phase of its bilateral cooperation with China.
The Dialogue on the Implementation of China-Africa Peace and Security Initiative was held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, on Feb 6. The dialogue was a pioneering step in strengthening the peace and security cooperation of China and Africa as well as a concrete move to deliver the outcomes of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation 2018 Beijing Summit.
At the summit, President Xi Jinping outlined new measures to strengthen China-Africa peace and security cooperation, and reached important consensus with African leaders on launching the peace and security initiative. China-Africa relations have for many years been defined by development, but now a conversation to engage in matters of peace and security has gained momentum.
This idea of seeking win-win solutions means that China has a stake in ensuring that its partnership leads to mutual gains. This partnership will survive so long as both China and Africa feel that they are making progress toward their goals in a win-win situation.
African countries have shown interest in the Chinese model of a community of shared destiny, which addresses the root causes of instability, including poverty and inequality. For instance, the Chinese development model that has focused on wealth creation to deal with unemployment is at the core of Africa’s bid to promote peace and security.
In an address to the United Nations General Assembly in 2015, President Xi offered $100 million in military assistance for a period of five years to support the African Union peace and security architecture through the African Standby Force and African Capacity for Immediate Response to Crises. The 2015 FOCAC summit in Johannesburg reinforced this commitment.
In 2016 and 2017, under the UN Peace and Development Trust Fund, China allocated more than $11 million for UN projects that included building African capacity to train police and soldiers for peacekeeping roles, regional operational analysis for peacekeeping missions, and support for the African Union initiative to manage conflicts in Africa.
In August 2017, China opened its first military base in Djibouti, with around 1,000 soldiers to pursue a peacekeeping mission in the region until 2026.
The Chinese military base has boosted maritime security, facilitated efforts to fight terrorism along the vulnerable Somali coastline, and safeguarded maritime routes across the Indian Ocean.
In addition, the China-Africa Defense and Security Forum held in June last year heightened the need for a collective regional security approach.
In President Xi’s keynote address at the 2018 Beijing summit and in its ensuing plan of action, China pledged to channel investment toward a China-Africa Peace and Security Fund as well as military assistance and 50 programs on law and order, peacekeeping, anti-piracy and counterterrorism.
The basis of China’s relations with Africa-its formal commitment to sovereignty, noninterference, equality and mutual respect-has formed an attractive contrast to that of the West.
China is fully committed to its values of engagement: playing a just, impartial and positive role to help Africa build up its own peacekeeping capacity; addressing root causes as well as symptoms of major challenges; and pursuing win-win cooperation.
Africa is also eager to identify relevant measures for the implementation of the China-Africa peace and security initiative, in line with Africa’s current situation and actual needs.
The Dialogue on the Implementation of China-Africa Peace and Security Initiative was a suitable move toward the implementation of the peace and security initiatives agreed upon at the FOCAC 2018 summit.