China’s interests in West Africa face growing terrorist threats, especially after its citizens and companies were subject to kidnappings and extortion operations during 2020. These developments coincide with the failure of French efforts to stop the expansion of terrorist organisations, and the tendency by the US to reduce its military presence in the region, while demands by Chinese companies are on the rise for a security role for China in protecting their interests in the African continent.
Triggers for China's security role in West Africa
China’s policy mechanisms to enhance its security role in West Africa
Opportunities of revitalizing China's security role in West Africa
The future of China's security policy in West Africa
First scenario: supporting UN efforts by participating in peacekeeping missions and providing military and financial assistance to support counterterrorism efforts. In December 2019, the Chinese ambassador in Nouakchott announced that China would donate 7 million US dollars in military equipment to each member of the G5 Sahel, in an indication that China wants a specific and independent role. That is why China did not join the G5 Sahel coalition but pledged to provide more financial support to the joint force.
Second scenario: Chinese-European counter-terrorism cooperation which was discussed in China's dialogue with the EU. However, China has not shown any great enthusiasm for such cooperation, as Beijing prefers to operate independently.
Third scenario: the involvement in the region of Chinese security companies, which are already operating in a number of African countries. Chinese companies are calling for strengthening their role. However, Chinese security companies continue to face many challenges, as some Chinese companies prefer to use Western security companies, and African countries continue to be reluctant to have Chinese security companies on their soil.
China is likely to continue to pursue a multi-faceted approach to security issues in Africa, combining China's participation in UN-led peacekeeping operations with anti-piracy measures to highlight its position as an international power, and provide financial and logistical support to African regional organisations to enhance counter-terrorism efforts and African countries' capabilities to protect Chinese citizens.
 Eric Olander, "It’s Been a Violent Year for Chinese Workers in Africa", August 19, 2020, available at: https://chinaafricaproject.com/analysis/its-been-a-violent-year-for-chinese-workers-in-africa/
 David H. Shinn, "China in Africa", Testimony before the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission, May 8, 2020, p. 2.
 Ibid, p. 2.
 Tom Bayes, "China’s Growing Security Role in Africa: Views from West Africa, Implications for Europe," Berlin, Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung E. V. 2020, available at: https://merics.org/sites/default/files/2020-07/Chinas%20growing%20security%20role%20in%20Africa_WEB%20version.pdf
 Gisela Grieger, Eulalie Claros, "China's growing role as a security actor in Africa", European Parliamentary Research Service, October 2019, p. 8.
 Ibid, p. 9.
 Tom Bayes, op. cit.
 Matthew Johnson :"China’s International Partnerships: Pan-African Cooperation", February 7, 2020, available at: https://globalriskinsights.com/2020/02/chinas-international-partnerships-pan-african-cooperation
 Gisela Grieger, Eulalie Claros, op. cit, p. 5.
 Tom Bayes, op. cit.
 David H. Shinn, op. cit, p. 5.
 Matthew Johnson, op. cit.
 James J. McDonnell, "Cooperation, Competition, or Both? Options for U.S. Land Forces vis-à-vis Chinese Interests in Africa", Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, June 2020, p. 26.
 Christopher Spearin, "China’s Private Military and Security Companies: ‘Chinese Muscle’ and Reasons for US Engagement", Analysis, July 7, 2020, available at: https://www.eurasiareview.com/07072020-chinas-private-military-and-security-companies-chinese-muscle-and-reasons-for-us-engagement-analysis/
 Tom Bayes, op. cit
 Christopher Spearin, op. cit.
 Sergey Sukhankin, "Chinese Private Security Contractors: New Trends and Future Prospects", China Brief, Vol. 20, Issue 9, May 15, 2020, p.22
Dr. Ebtesam Al Ketbi | 15 Apr 2021
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Dr. Ebtesam al-Ketbi | 31 Mar 2021