In November 2021, Chinese and African political leaders met in Senegal for the eighth ministerial meeting of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC). Since its creation in 2000, China has viewed the forum as an important opportunity to highlight priority areas in the China-Africa relationship, assess shifts in bilateral relationships and negotiate economic and trade deals. While President Xi Jinping touted peace and security as a priority during this year's FOCAC, there were fewer commitments to projects in this category than in previous years.

But despite receiving little attention in this year's ministerial meeting, China's influence on Africa's peace and security landscape is anything but insignificant. Over the past decade, China has steadily contributed to U.N. peacekeeping forces in Africa, funded Africa's regional institutions, extended military cooperation, established a military base on the continent and played an important role in Africa's arms and technology market.

On January 19, USIP held a discussion on the key takeaways from FOCAC 2021, China's long-term strategy in Africa's peace and security landscape, how China's bilateral relationships in Africa affect conflict dynamics — for example, in Ethiopia, where China has played an outsized economic role — and what it all means for U.S. foreign policy. 

Join the conversation on Twitter with #USIPFOCAC

Speakers

Lise Grande, opening remarks
President and CEO, U.S. Institute of Peace

Abdul Hakeem Ajijola
Chair, African Union Cyber Security Expert Group 

Garth le Pere
Professor, University of Pretoria; Senior Associate, Mapungubwe Institute for Strategic Reflection

Heather Ashby, moderator
Senior Program Officer, Strategic Security and Stability, U.S. Institute of Peace

Joseph Sany, closing remarks
Vice President, Africa Center, U.S. Institute of Peace

Related Publications

China’s Security Force Posture in Thailand, Laos, and Cambodia

China’s Security Force Posture in Thailand, Laos, and Cambodia

Wednesday, December 15, 2021

By: John Bradford

China’s geo-economic influence is empowering the expansion of its security force posture in the Lower Mekong region, which should be of concern to both maritime Southeast Asia and the United States. While Thailand, Laos, and Cambodia—the geographic core of mainland Southeast Asia—are demonstrating resilience and sustaining some strategic autonomy, several trends indicate that their options may be increasingly limited. This report looks at China’s security force posture in these nations, the possible ramifications of that posture, and considerations for balancing U.S. policy and outreach. 

Type: Special Report

Conflict Analysis & Prevention

U.S. Diplomatic Boycott of Beijing Olympics: No Longer 'Business as Usual'

U.S. Diplomatic Boycott of Beijing Olympics: No Longer 'Business as Usual'

Thursday, December 9, 2021

By: Lauren Baillie;  Mirna Galic;  Rachel Vandenbrink

On Monday the Biden administration announced it would not send an official United States delegation to the Beijing Winter Olympic Games as a statement against China's "ongoing genocide and crimes against humanity in Xinjiang," as well as other human rights abuses such as in Hong Kong. U.S. athletes will still be allowed to compete in the Games, which start in February. USIP’s Lauren Baillie, Mirna Galic and Rachel Vandenbrink discuss the rationale behind the decision, how the boycott fits into the U.S. strategy surrounding the Uyghur crisis and how China and U.S. allies are responding.

Type: Analysis and Commentary

Global PolicyHuman Rights

Neither Summit, nor Sidebar: Assessing the Biden-Xi ‘Virtual Meeting’

Neither Summit, nor Sidebar: Assessing the Biden-Xi ‘Virtual Meeting’

Wednesday, November 17, 2021

By: Carla Freeman, Ph.D.;  Andrew Scobell, Ph.D.;  Jennifer Staats, Ph.D.

To address growing tensions between the United States and China, particularly over Taiwan, President Joe Biden and General Secretary Xi Jinping met virtually on Monday night (Tuesday morning in Beijing) for a three-hour discussion that covered a wide array of contentious issues. Both sides downplayed expectations for the session beforehand and have been relatively subdued albeit somewhat positive in their respective post-meeting statements and spins. Less formal than a summit and more structured than a sidebar, what if anything did the extended virtual top-level bilateral discussion achieve?

Type: Analysis and Commentary

Global Policy

How China Responds to Instability on Its Periphery: Lessons from Afghanistan and Myanmar

How China Responds to Instability on Its Periphery: Lessons from Afghanistan and Myanmar

Monday, November 1, 2021

By: Alison McFarland;  Andrew Scobell, Ph.D.

China’s timid rhetoric and underwhelming actions vis-à-vis recent political upheaval in two different neighboring countries belie the image of a confident and assertive Beijing. What explains this apparent paradox? Despite the ruling Chinese Communist Party’s outward bravado, combined with unprecedented expansion of China’s regional and global activities and presence, Xi Jinping and his Politburo colleagues remain wary when it comes to taking risks abroad. Certainly, when China believes its interests are being directly attacked, such as in recent disputes with Australia and India, the state has opted for riskier, more aggressive moves. But where Beijing is not a direct party to the conflict, caution can override its willingness to take action that would show its hand or put China in a situation where it is not guaranteed to avoid a messy exit, à la the United States in Afghanistan.

Global PolicyConflict Analysis & Prevention

View All Publications