Analysis & Opinions - The New York Times

Where China Is Changing Its Diplomatic Ways (at Least a Little)

| July 25, 2022

Whirlwind visits to crisis-riven nations in Africa. A sleek training center for the continent’s up-and-coming politicians. The prospect of major debt forgiveness for a favorite African country.

As relations with the United States and Europe plummet, China is starting a new wave of diplomacy in Africa, where it dominates trade with resource-rich nations and keeps friendly ties with mostly authoritarian leaders, unfettered by competition from the West.

China’s campaign to cultivate African allegiances is part of a great geopolitical competition, which has intensified since the start of the war in Ukraine. Already fiercely vying for loyalties in Asia, Beijing and Washington are now jockeying broadly for influence, with the United States, Europe and their democratic allies positioned against China, Russia, Iran and other autocracies. Heightening the competition, Russia’s foreign minister, Sergey V. Lavrov, began a tour of Egypt, Ethiopia, Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo Sunday.

In Africa, China is adjusting its approach, more closely integrating financial and diplomatic efforts. It’s a recognition that just building new expressways, hydropower dams and skyscrapers — as China has tried to do with the Belt and Road Initiative — isn’t sufficient to secure relations.

While the initiative across dozens of countries has helped to relegate the United States to a second-tier position in many places, the projects have also amplified tensions and added to a mounting debt crisis. To complement the rails and roads, China’s leader, Xi Jinping, started a new Global Security Initiative in the spring, a broad effort to bring developing countries together.

For more information on this publication: Belfer Communications Office
For Academic Citation: Perlez, Jane.“Where China Is Changing Its Diplomatic Ways (at Least a Little).” The New York Times, July 25, 2022.

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