China in West Africa: a sustainable model of partnership?

26 November 2013

China’s successes in Africa attracted considerable worldwide attention to the « partnership model » offered by Beijing to its partners. However, these very successes have also, quite paradoxically, generated a new set of challenges. Three of these challenges can schematically be isolated, that together cast doubt on how sustainable the Chinese presence and influence in Africa can be. First, Sino-African partnerships remain highly fragmented. Second, African partners have rising expectations towards China. Third, the increasing role of China as a security actor in Africa brings with it additional strains and questions. These issues and challenges all point towards one question: can the Sino-African model of cooperation constitute a leverage for emerging African powers, and how? The present note tackles this question through cases and lessons provided by West Africa’s experience of its relationship with China.