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Rashid Manzoor asked: Can China's increasing clout in Africa be viewed as a zero sum game from India’s point of view?

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  • Ruchita Beri replies: China’s foot print in Africa has increased considerably in recent years. China launched the Forum for China- Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) in 2000. It is well known that the Chinese Foreign Minister begins each calendar year with regular visits to the African continent. Along with the political engagement, China’s economic engagement with the region has increased. China is currently Africa’s largest trading partner, with the two way trade valued at $254 billion in 2021. Africa is also an important part of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) launched in 2013. This initiative has led to greater commercial engagement of Chinese companies in Africa, who are involved in large infrastructure development projects across the continent. Some countries like Angola, Ethiopia and Zambia have been major recipients of Chinese development assistance.

    However, it will be wise to avoid depicting China’s increasing presence in Africa as a zero-sum game for India. An increase in China’s interactions in Africa does not automatically imply a downturn in India- Africa relations. In fact, India’s political and economic engagement with African countries has also increased in the recent years. It is guided by the principles of Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam (One World, One Family) and South–South cooperation. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has often reiterated that Africa is a “high priority in India’s foreign and economic policy”. India’s relationship with African countries is not new and can be traced back to ancient times. India’s engagement with Africa is unique, as it is inclusive and is guided by African priorities.

    It should be noted that African countries have also welcomed the increased interest of external partners in the region, for collaborative and developmental partnerships. Apart from India and China, other countries like the US, France, the UK, the UAE, Turkiye and Japan have been engaging with African countries.

    Posted on June 06, 2023

    Views expressed are of the expert and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Manohar Parrikar IDSA or the Government of India.