China's growing role in African peace and security

This report assesses China’s growing role in Africa and its effect on factors that drive conflict and those that promote peace.

China’s growing economic role in Africa is well-documented; trade between China and the African continent increased from just over $10bn in 2000 to $115bn in 2010. However, the report highlights that China is also now an important player in Africa’s peace and security challenges.

The report brings together research by scholars, think tanks and NGOs from Africa, China, and Europe.

Examples detailed in the report include:

  • China’s bilateral relations with African states are largely determined by its principles of non-interference in the domestic affairs of other countries. However China is gradually using diplomatic means to push for the resolution of some conflicts such as that in Darfur.
  • China is becoming a major supplier of conventional arms to African states. Critics argue that some of these weapons have been used in human rights violations and have ended up in the wrong hands, for example in Sudan, Zimbabwe and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
  • China has increased its troop contributions to UN peacekeeping missions 20-fold since 2000, with the majority based in Africa.  It has also participated in multilateral anti-piracy efforts in the Gulf of Aden.
  • China is set to play a greater role in post-conflict reconstruction through its economic engagement. Elsewhere its demand for energy and minerals has meant that it has been drawn into conflicts surrounding natural resources.