China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi is in Africa at the moment. It has become a multi-decade tradition that the FM’s first foreign trip of the year is always to Africa. These trips are arguably less important for what they achieve (although announcements of new deals frequently follow) and more for projecting a sense of constancy in the China-Africa relationship.
In Chinese official rhetoric, the China-Africa relationship is always strong, yet constantly undermined. As the prominent Chinese China-Africa scholar He Wenping put it in a recent Global Times op-ed: “Certain Western political elites and their media outlets see Africa as their sphere of influence – even though they do not really care about the continent. They regard China as moving their cheese when Beijing deepens coordination with African countries. They are jealous and hold a “sour grapes” mentality toward growing ties between China and Africa.”
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