The growing Chinese presence in Africa is a fact of the changing geopolitical reality. While the US and European officials criticize African autocratic regimes, the Chinese do not care about democracy, rule of law and human rights. Instead, they invest money and construct modern infrastructure. They act more predictably, more pragmatically, and do it more cheaply than their western rivals. That is the main reason China consistently pushes Europeans and Americans out of Africa. Chinese financing strategy is often called the “Angola model,” - in which China provides low-interest loans to countries with low credit ratings, and in turn receives favorable rights to develop oil and mining projects.
Relations on the official level are mutually beneficial. African countries enjoy benefits from a commercial relationship with a major world economy; China gains access to African natural resources. There are also criticisms. These surround questions of safety and environmental standards, whether these are violated, and unfair business practices and the flouting of local laws. However China proposes a highly elaborated and consistent strategy of development.
Beijing, which has previously reserved the use of its military for protection of its own borders and territory, may now be seen as flexing its muscle on a continent some 7,700 km away.
The summit culminated in the adoption of the Johannesburg Declaration and the Johannesburg Action Plan towards 2018. The main change in China-Africa relations is a shift from bilateral relations to fostering continental integration. China will support mostly projects that include regional cooperation. Thus China will construct the architecture of its own hegemonic empire on the African continent.
Chinese President, Xi Jinping, announced 10 new co-operation plans between China and Africa that will be implemented in the next three years. Theу include following priorities:
1. Continuous industrialization of the continent (China-Africa Industrialization Plan). China will build or upgrade a number of industrial parks and set up regional vocational education centers and schools for capacity building. Training of 200,000 technical personnel and providing 40,000 training opportunities for Africans in China are also mentioned.
2. Development of African agriculture (China-Africa Agriculture Modernization). China will transfer its agricultural technologies to Africa.
3. Building of infrastructure in the sectors of railway, road, regional aviation, ports, electricity and telecommunications. The establishment of five transportation universities in Africa.
4. Free trade agreements with countries and regional organizations and increase the import of African products (China-Africa Trade and Investment Facilitation Pla).
5. China-Africa Green Development Plan. 100 projects with the Chinese will be launched to develop clean energy, protect wildlife and build smart cities.
6. The reduction of poverty in Africa.
7. China will cancel outstanding debt in the form of zero-interest loans borrowed by least developed countries in Africa that mature at the end of 2015.
8. Improving healthcare on the continent.
9. Fostering China-Africa cultural and people-people exchange: China will build five cultural centres in Africa and provide satellite reception to 10,000 African villages. China will also sponsor 2,000 educational opportunities with diplomas/degrees and 30,000 government scholarships.
10. Security cooperation. China will provide $60 million to support the building and operation of the African Standby Force and the African capacity for the immediate response to crisis.
The Djibouti base will be the first Chinese overseas military installation. Its position on the strategic maritime route linking the Europe, the Middle East and Indian Ocean will strengthen Chinese power in the region. The main Chinese rival, the US, already has its own base in Djibouti. For China it is important to secure the supply route to Europe and control the strategically important point in the southern rim of Eurasia.
The Chinese project of the Maritime Silk Road, the route through the waters of the South China Sea, the South Pacific Ocean, and the wider Indian Ocean area, includes this area and Eastern African countries.
The opening of the first Chinese military base will be followed in other parts of the region. Growing Chinese presence in Africa will lead to a change in the traditional policy of non-interference in internal affairs of African countries. Western rivals use internal forces to undermine Chinese influence. For example in September 2011, Michael Sata won Zambia's presidency largely by tapping into anti-Chinese resentments. To salvage their position, the Chinese should influence internal policies in African states.
The involvement in regional conflicts also is imminent. Like Russia, which had to interfere in Syria to save its geopolitical positions, China will have no choice but intervene in African matters.
To diminish this possibility, China will construct regional frames controlled by Africans themselves, but able to tackle the problems without direct Chinese involvement. Thus China, acting in its own interests, will contribute to peace-making on the continent.