Off and On: China’s Principle of Non-Interference in Africa

Adaora Osondu


The entry point for this paper is the premise that China’s principle of non-interference is one current debated issue in China’s contemporary engagement with Africa. Scholars have argued on the implications of this principle for consolidation of democracy, good governance and human rights in Africa. Others have pointed on the good of the principle, asserting that it has become an alternative for African governments to avert the Western imposition of conditionalities and their long procedural routine. The purpose of this paper is not to reiterate the well known gospel on the implications (positive or negative) of the principle but to examine the origin of this principle, particularly in Sino-Africa relations and the consistency or otherwise of China’s application of this principle in Africa. This paper with specific reference to Sudan and Zimbabwe seeks to examine the ‘off’ and ‘on’ of this principle in China’s contemporary relations with Africa. Making use of both primary (interview) and secondary (journals, books, internet materials, memos etc) sources of data, this paper analysed what caused the shift (off) and what caused the maintenance of the stance (on) in China’s application of this principle in Africa.The study revealed that China’s application of non-interference principle in Africa has not been consistent. China’s insisting (switching on) or non- insisting (switching off) on non-interference policy is dictated by its primal national interest. For instance, China’s shifting of its stance on non-interference and persuading Sudan to accept the UN force has to do with its overriding interests at the time- hosting of the Olympics. Generally, non-interference principle apart from being a principle established in international law also serves as a tool that China sometimes employs to pursue its interests in its relations with Africa.

DOI: 10.5901/mjss.2013.v4n3p225

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Mediterranean Journal of Social Sciences ISSN 2039-9340(Print) ISSN 2039-2117(Online)

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