China strengthens its military presence in Africa

Africa: Despite the opposition of Western countries such as France and the United States, or the reduction of its military operations in Africa, China is seeking ways to strengthen its ties with African countries through military training, the sharing of intelligence and the fight against terrorism. promotes its new global security initiative.

On Monday, Chinese President Xi Jinping, in a letter to the 2nd China-Africa Peace and Security Forum, urged the two countries to launch the Global Security Initiative (GSI) and safeguard justice and fairness. world. The author noted that “the common aspiration of Chinese and African people is to achieve lasting peace and universal security.”

Xi said China stands ready to cooperate with its African friends to uphold the idea of ​​common, comprehensive, cooperative and sustainable security.

The GSI, which was announced in April, opposes unilateral sanctions and the deliberate use of extended jurisdiction, as well as the pursuit of national security at the expense of others. This event represents the latest indication of China’s willingness to take the lead in international security and governance.

Beijing is strengthening its security ties with Africa, where it has sent thousands of troops to UN peacekeeping missions, trained more military personnel and wants to play a bigger role in the peace processes of the Horn of Africa and the Sahel. In addition, a large number of African countries purchase military equipment and supplies from China.

Senior defense officials from 48 African countries participated in the online forum on Monday. The opening speech was delivered by Chinese Defense Minister Wei Fenghe.
Wei suggested that “in order to promote China-Africa cooperation in peace and security,” China and Africa should “strengthen equipment and technical cooperation, deepen joint maritime training exercises and exchange in professional fields”. should be expanded.”

According to John Calabrese, director of the Middle East-Asia Project at the American University of Washington, China’s military and security footprint in Africa has increased with the emergence of the Belt and Road Initiative and its central role. in Beijing’s global strategy.

China has helped build large-scale infrastructure projects such as ports, highways, power dams, railways and roads across Africa through the Belt and Road Initiative. To protect its people and its investments, China had to increase its military cooperation. Beijing opened its first military outpost in Djibouti in 2017.

According to Calabrese, GSI will focus on counterterrorism initiatives, intelligence sharing and military training in Africa.
According to Calabrese, “these zones are likely to better protect China’s assets and civilians on the mainland, at relatively low transaction costs and levels of visibility that won’t attract as much attention from the United States or the West than the establishment of military bases”. “

China is engaged in various security-related activities across Africa. China has participated in United Nations peacekeeping operations in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Liberia. China sent its first combat troops to the United Nations mission in Sudan about a decade ago. He sent troops to help the UN peacekeeping mission in Mali in 2013.

According to Calabrese, Beijing’s assistance to counter-piracy operations also includes providing resources such as patrol boats to the Ghanaian military, in addition to contributions from its own naval forces in the Gulf of Aden.
“China is making efforts to cooperate with law enforcement agencies and improve public security,” the official said. During the UN mission in Liberia in 2014 and more recently, for example, in South Africa and Zambia, the Chinese provided police training. inspected.”
In addition, China has contributed financially to the security initiatives of regional institutions, such as the G5 Sahel Joint Force and the Economic Community of West African States. Beijing has announced that it will continue to provide military aid to the African Union, citing the GSI.

China’s security landscape also includes Chinese security companies such as Beijing Dewey Security Service and Huaxin Zhong An Security Group. Calabrese went on to mention People’s Liberation Army exercises with Cameroon, Gabon, Ghana and Nigeria as part of the budding relationship.
According to Mohamed Soliman, a researcher at the Middle East Institute in Washington, the GSI is being promoted by China as “a non-Western alternative and a mechanism from the Global South to the Global South”.

According to Suleiman, China will use the initiative “to position China as a great power capable of projecting influence beyond its sphere of influence in Asia.”
Over the past 10 to 15 years, Beijing has become a strategic ally for many countries in the Middle East and Africa, thanks to military and security cooperation entered into by China. Many regional powers prefer a model of transactional bilateral relations, according to Soliman.
“China’s regional footprint could occur sooner than policymakers in Washington and Brussels expect” in Africa, according to Soliman.

According to Barton, the extent of Chinese economic interests as well as local demand will lead to a continued expansion of Chinese public or private military and security interests in Africa.
“China is not the only major external security provider on the continent. In terms of defending their interests, the military, arms suppliers and private security companies of the United States, Russia, France, the United Kingdom and the United Arab Emirates are on par with China, according to him.
France has recently encountered resistance in some African countries such as Mali, where it announced earlier this year that it would withdraw its forces after a nearly decade-long deployment, as China pushes to play a bigger role. in continental security.

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