- Egypt to become China’s biggest partner in Africa
- Eberhard Sandschneider criticizes Taiwan trips
- Beijing publishes Covid death toll
- Record high in trade with Russia
- China becomes second-largest car exporter
- Japan and USA reaffirm alliance
- Obituary of former VW CEO Carl Hahn
This week, China’s new Foreign Minister Qin Gang’s first official trip will take him to various African countries. The former ambassador of the People’s Republic to the United States is sending a clear signal: The continent remains a top priority for the People’s Republic on its way to becoming a global power. Egypt, in particular, is moving into focus, writes Michael Radunski in his foreign policy analysis. From here, Beijing can expand its influence in the Middle East.
While China builds a bridgehead between the Arab and African worlds and continues to fund infrastructure projects worth billions of dollars, the West is still hesitant. Western counterparts to Beijing’s Belt and Road Initiative, such as Global Gateway and Build Back Better World, are mainly limited to promises. The African Union is well aware of this imbalance.
Meanwhile, the Chinese leadership is taking careful note of the increasing number of visits by Western politicians to Taiwan. While high-ranking delegations such as the one by the German liberal FDP want their trips to be understood as support for parliamentary democracy in Asia, Eberhard Sandschneider sees them, above all, as the satisfaction of a desire for domestic political recognition. As the political scientist and Taiwan expert explains in an interview with Felix Lee, these visits are not only useless to Taiwan but could even drive the island into a spiral of military escalation with China – and that would have “catastrophic consequences for the global economy.”
The former FU Professor also considers the dependency debate “hysterical.” He believes China’s domestic market can not be replaced. In any case, the best solution would be to maintain the status quo.
China provides money, the West provides promises
The first visit of the new year takes the Chinese Foreign Minister to Africa. What sounds astonishing to the West has been a tradition in China for 33 years. However, Qin Gang has only been in office for a few weeks – so it would not have been surprising if the first travel destination of China’s new chief diplomat had been elsewhere: For example, to a friend in Russia, to courted partners in Germany or France, or even to the competition in America. But Qin Gang chose Ethiopia, Gabon, Angola, Benin, and Egypt, including a visit to the headquarters of the African Union (AU).
This way, Qin is sending a clear signal: While Europeans and America are even struggling to put Africa on the political agenda, China’s foreign ministers reliably travel to Africa at the beginning of the year. Even if the minister has only been in office for a few weeks.
Qin’s balanced travel plans
In doing so, Beijing is acting very skillfully. Qin’s itinerary reveals a deft balance between East, Central, West, North, and South Africa; between the Indian and Atlantic Oceans, and between economic and geopolitical interests.