2021 is a significant year for Africa-China relations. It marks 20 years since the Forum for China Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) was established. China’s Communist Party, which has been in contact with African parties longer than any other political party in the industrialized world, turned 100. Meanwhile, South Africa’s African National Congress, one of the first African movements to be mentored by China, turned 109.
China has a long history of engaging in Africa’s energy sector. The first Chinese hydropower station was completed in the 1960s. Known as the Kinkon hydropower station in Guinea, it was China’s first foreign aid project in Africa’s power sector, amongst other landmark infrastructure projects like the Tanzania-Zambia Railway (TAZARA) in that same period. However, Chinese aid was largely interrupted during the early stages of China’s economic reforms in the early 1980s, when strategic priorities shifted towards domestic economic development.
When the first Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) was launched in 2000, it was hardly a high-profile meeting. It was held at the ministerial level, hosting heads of governments rather than heads of state as in later summits. As such, the first FOCAC flew relatively under the radar in terms of international media coverage. We recall the iconic (and infamous) cover photo of the Economist in 2000 defining Africa as an “hopeless continent”.
At the upcoming 8th Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC), the multiple dimensions of health cooperation between China and Africa (aid, trade, and high politics) will undoubtedly take centre stage. During the past year and a half, as the Covid-19 pandemic raged through the world, China repeatedly made headlines for its alleged role as a global public goods purveyor.
2021 marks the twentieth anniversary of the Forum on China-Africa Relations (FOCAC). While FOCAC wasn’t the first of the so-called Africa Plus One summits (Japan’s Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD) predates it) it has come to set the template for how the continent engages with external powers. The success of FOCAC has spurred many similar initiatives between African countries and partners as diverse as Russia, India, the EU, and even Indonesia.
The MED This Week newsletter provides expert analysis and informed insights on the most significant developments in the MENA region, bringing together unique opinions on the topic and reliable foresight on future scenarios. Today, we focus on Tunisia, where recent protests have prompted President Saied to an unprecedented decision which may challenge the country’s entire democratic transition.
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I paesi dell’Unione europea sono stati colpiti pesantemente dalla crisi economica provocata dalla pandemia da Covid-19: nel 2020, il Pil ha subito una contrazione del 6,1% anche se le performance dei singoli Stati Membri sono state disomogenee. Le prospettive per la ripresa nel 2021-22 sono positive, anche se pesa l’incertezza legata al possibile perdurare dell’emergenza sanitaria.
L’Unione Europea sta cercando di mettere in piedi la propria “Via della Seta”, in alternativa al mastodontico progetto portato avanti dalla Cina? Probabilmente un’affermazione del genere potrebbe risultare prematura; tuttavia, le recenti mosse di Bruxelles vanno nella direzione di acquisire maggiore autonomia e indipendenza (non soltanto in chiave difensiva) rispetto ai progetti portati avanti da Pechino.
Londra vuole riscrivere il Protocollo sull'Irlanda del Nord, ma Bruxelles non ci sta: il muro contro muro rischia di riaccendere la questione irlandese