China and AfricaFor China, the start of the New Year marks its renewed commitment towards building a strong strategic partnership with the African continent. A few days into 2012, China’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Yang Jiechi, re-affirmed its strong commitment to reinforcing Sino-African relations, following his official visits to Cote d’Ivoire, Namibia and Niger. Minister Jiechi stressed that countries "should not reduce help and input into Africa", in the context of the current financial crisis. He underlined his commitment "to further enhance unity and co-operation between China and Africa" - describing it as a matter of "strategic importance" for his country.

In 2003, China’s direct investment in the African continent added up to $490 million; by the end of 2009, it had grown to $9.33 billion. This exponential growth in investment is also reflected in the increase in trade volume between the two regions.  According to the 2010 white paper "China-Africa Economic and Trade Co-operation", released by the Chinese government, the trade volume grew from $1 billion in 1980 to $114.81 billion in 2010. 

Over the years, China has effectively consolidated its strategic partnership with African countries, securing its access to valuable resources and energy. As well as signing important contracts that assure its access to oil, China has also heavily invested in renewable resources including solar and hydropower projects.  According to International Rivers, an international environmental NGO, Chinese companies and banks are "the biggest builders and funders of dams around the world"; many of the companies involved are said to disregard environmental standards. Chinese engagement in dam projects include Kajbar Dam on the Nile and the Merowe Dam in Northern Sudan, where the China Export Import Bank has invested $1.8 billion.

Africa's increasing demand for the financing of infrastructure development has led Chinese companies to engage in over 500 projects. These projects have contributed to establishing close relations with numerous governments; in 2008, 70% of the investments were concentrated in projects in Ethiopia, Nigeria, Angola and The Sudan. According to the 2008 World Bank report “Building Bridges: China’s Growing Role as Infrastructure Financier for Sub-Saharan Africa”, Chinese infrastructure investments on the African continent reached $7 billion in 2006, of which the majority were concentrated on hydropower projects and the transportation sector.

Since the creation of the ministerial conference Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) in 2000, Sino-African relations have grown stronger: political and commercial ties have been strengthened through the adoption of a common agenda. China calls this ''South-South co-operation''. As an emerging donor, China has closely linked trade and commercial investment strategies to aid the creation of a new breed of development assistance. As a result, it has become necessary to distinguish between China's different assistance mechanisms to African countries, separating ''traditional aid'' from "co-operation" (in terms of private economic investment by Chinese companies and banks). 

In the last three decades, China has built a new role for itself as a donor, a contractor, an investor and a strong commercial partner for several African countries. However, the consequences of Chinese investment in and aid to the African continent remain a subject of debate - for academics as well as practitioners - as many fear it is becoming a new kind colonization.