China-Africa summit to strengthen relationships as part of Silk Road agenda

Next week’s Forum on China-African Cooperation summit will look to charm leaders on the continent, seen by Beijing as a step towards global dominance. China has cut imports of African commodities, leaving the continent in the economic lurch.
IN September, presidents Omar al Bashir and Jacob Zuma held a warm meeting on the sidelines of a major Chinese military celebration, three months after the Sudanese leader flew out of South Africa in the face of an ICC arrest warrant, having managed to steal the attention from the AU summit that he was attending.

Bashir was an old friend, China said in the face of criticism, while Zuma’s side put out that they expected even better bilateral relations between Sudan and South Africa.

Then a few days ago news broke that China and South Africa had asked Bashir to stay away from a key summit in Johannesburg next week, both countries evidently quite keen on ensuring there was no repeat of the sideshow of his presence to draw away the international spotlight from the meeting.

For China, the thinking is clear: Beijing intends to use the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) to both re-state its engagement with Africa following what has been a rocky year.