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Beyond the Rhetoric: Noninterference in China’s African Policy

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image of African and Asian Studies
For more content, see Journal of Asian and African Studies.

The following paper examines the historical origins and development of China’s advocacy of the principle of noninterference in its African foreign policy and suggests that in spite of its consistent rhetorical support for noninterference over the last fifty years, the relevance of the principle in shaping Beijing’s foreign policy decisions has varied as its pragmatic interests have shifted. China’s post-Maoist leadership, in the drive to win the African resources and markets needed to bolster its growing, export-driven economy, has utilized the practice of noninterference to win a foothold on the continent. As its level of investment in Africa and dependency on African energy resources and markets have expanded, however, Beijing has found limiting its actions vis-à-vis a policy of noninterference less tenable, and as recurrences of regional instability and anti-Chinese populism have threatened its interests, citizens, and assets on the continent, will likely take a more forceful role in its relations with partner states.

Affiliations: 1: Department of Political Science, Miami University 111 North Elm St., Oxford, OH 45056 USA, Email:; 2: Department of Politics and Geography, Coastal Carolina University P. O. Box 261954, Conway, SC 29528 USA, Email:


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