Strengthen African security capacity serves global interests

By He Wenping
0 Comment(s)Print E-mail, January 21, 2015
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The Western media has played up recent stories about China helping the African Union to establish a rapid response force. The overarching storyline is that China is massively intervening in peace and security affairs in Africa. Some journalists have even predicted that the shift would lead to new conflicts between China and the US in Africa.

This media attention seemingly originated from a statement by South African President Zuma upon conclusion of his visit to China in December 2014. He talked about China's readiness to provide help and finance for the African Union in its peacekeeping operations, including for the establishment of an African rapid response force. There are also media reports about President Zuma discussing the matter with Russia during his visit at the end of August. South Africa believes that an African rapid response force will require support from other BRICS countries in addition to China.

As a matter of fact, promoting peace and stability in Africa, and strengthening security cooperation with Africa has been an important pillar of China-Africa cooperation in recent years. In China's African Policy, published in January 2006, the Chinese Government described in much detail the strengthening cooperation with African countries in peace and security. At the 5th Ministerial Conference of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation in July 2012, strengthening security cooperation appeared for the first time in a programmatic document as one of five major cooperation areas, together with investment and financing, assistance and people's livelihood, African integration as well as people-to-people exchanges. When Premier Li Keqiang visited Africa in May 2014, peace and security was listed as one of the six major cooperation projects (the other five being industry, finance, poverty reduction, ecology and environment, and people-to-people exchanges). Li pledged to implement the Initiative on a China-Africa Cooperative Partnership for Peace and Security, actively explore the provision of help for regular and rapid response forces in Africa, support the building of African collective security mechanism, jointly expand with African cooperation in training, intelligence sharing and joint exercises, and help Africans to build up their capacity to safeguard peace, counter terrorism and to combat piracy.

Thus, China helping the African Union to build up its rapid response forces is no breaking news. It is rather a natural combination of African needs with Chinese will and capability. Strengthened security cooperation serves not only peace and stability in Africa by enhancing the continent's security capability, but also interests the of all countries investing in Africa, including China and the US, as well as global interest in world peace and security.

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