China's New Leadership and Sino-Africa Relations

Editor's Note: This chapter is part of the 2013 Foresight Africa full report, which details the top priorities for Africa in the coming year. Read the full report here.


  • Regardless of whether there will be a fundamental/philosophical change to China’s foreign strategy, it is highly unlikely that China will pursue any major foreign policy change toward Africa.
  • At the July 2012 FOCAC meeting, President Jacob Zuma of South Africa pointed out that trade between Africa and China is unbalanced, and the pattern is problematic.
  • Whether the new Chinese leaders will be able to meet the expectations of Africans remains to be seen. China’s new leaders have several pressing problems to address at home, and changing the country’s current mercantilist policy in Africa might not be in its short-term interest.

Recent senior leadership changes in the Chinese govern­ment have Africa experts wondering what impacts these changes will have on China-Africa relations.  Yun Sun, Julius Agbor and Jessica Smith expect that China’s strategies in Africa may not change dramatically in 2013; however, African governments may have an evolving view of Chi­na’s sometimes unequal partnership.

Many Africans hope China’s new leaders will shift China’s priority from short-term resource exploitation to a more long-term sustain­able development model.  At the same time, albeit in small numbers, some African politicians and civil society organizations have begun to be more vocal in their opposition to China’s resource-centric approach toward the continent.