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China’s soft power in Africa: From the ‘Beijing Consensus’ to health diplomacy

Date: 2005
China’s relations with Africa have steadily deepened and strengthened since the founding of “new China” in 1949. Evolving from ideologically-driven interactions during the Cold War, today’s China-Africa relations combine pragmatic economic and political means to achieve China’s objective of establishing a world order that is peaceful and conducive to continued economic growth and stability at home. In the 1960s and 1970s, China supported liberation movements in several African countries, gave aid to socialist nations to build stadiums, hospitals, railroads and other infrastructure, and cemented relations through a steady stream of expert engineers, teachers, and doctors. Today, Chinese officials travel to Africa accompanied by bankers and businesspeople, promoting political and economic commerce that expands China-Africa ties in a sustainable fashion. While trade and diplomacy are driven by China’s newfound economic strength and subsequent demand for raw materials, China continues to support longstanding programs that deliver aid to underserved African citizens, such as sending teams of doctors and providing medicines. Following the framework set out by the first China-Africa Cooperation Forum in 2000, China-Africa relations are set to advance through a combination of traditional financial aid and technical support programs, along with rapidly growing bilateral trade and investment.

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