While Chinese engagement in Africa is a relatively new phenomenon, dating back around 20 years now, countries in Southeast Asia have millennia of experience in managing ties with Beijing. Today, the 10 countries that make up the Association of Southeast Asian Nations or ASEAN, are on the frontlines of the Belt and Road Initiative and China’s rapidly escalating rivalry with the United States.
And given that most of Southeast Asia is very similar to Africa in terms of demographics (both young regions), agriculture (both are predominantly agrarian), and development (average per capita incomes are similar at around $4,000-$5,000), there are a number of applicable lessons that African stakeholders can takeaway from ASEAN’s experience in managing ties with China.
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