According to an announcement made by China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Monday, the newly appointed Chinese Minister of Foreign Affairs, Qin Gang, will begin his tenure by traveling to five different countries in Africa for a total of one week.
According to statements made by spokesman Wang Wenbin at a daily media conference, Qin will go to Ethiopia, Gabon, Angola, Benin, and Egypt between the dates of January 9 and 16. Qin, who most recently served as ambassador to the United States, is scheduled to meet with the secretary-general of the Arab League while he is in Egypt.
The new foreign minister is carrying on the tradition begun by his predecessors, who for more than three decades have begun each year with a journey to Africa. This tradition is being carried on by the current foreign minister. According to Wang, “It demonstrates that China places a significant priority on the development of China-Africa relations as well as the long-standing friendship it has enjoyed with Africa.”
The partnership between China and Africa has been described by some analysts as a symbiotic relationship, which means that both sides stand to benefit from it. But there have also been discussions about a so-called “debt trap” and China’s “palace diplomacy,” which is when the country pays for huge infrastructure projects in Africa in order to gain power in those countries’ governments.
China has been working to strengthen its position on the African continent while the U.S. and France try to fix their relationships with African countries and Russia grows its sphere of influence.
The United States and China are engaged in a competition for influence in Africa; President Joe Biden made a plea to African leaders during a meeting that took place in the United States in December. China has become one of Africa’s most important business partners and a major investor in mining and infrastructure projects in the area.
According to Stephen Chan, a professor of world politics at the University of London’s School of Oriental and African Studies, these moves demonstrate the increased need to woo Africa at a time of growing global tension and a potential “new Cold War.”
On December 30th, Qin, who is 56 years old, was given the position of foreign minister. He took over for Wang Yi, 69, who had taken over for Yang Jiechi as the most senior official in charge of the government’s foreign affairs. Wang’s new job hasn’t been made public yet, but he was recently named as the head of the Communist Party’s foreign affairs office in an article he posted on the Foreign Ministry’s website.