Peace through prevention: practical steps for deepening China-Africa security co-operation

  • Thomas Wheeler Saferworld


Highlighted at the last Forum on China-Africa Co-operation (FOCAC) as one of five key areas for deepening co-operation, African peace and security has moved up the Sino-Africa agenda. This has been in parallel to, and as a consequence of, the maturing of relations. African actors - most notably states and regional organisations - will have considerable influence over defining the future shape and direction of Chinese engagement on this agenda. Nonetheless, Chinese policy-makers still have important choices to make. While examining why matters of African peace and security are of increasing importance to them, this paper also identifies some of the existing obstacles to deepening engagement. Arguing that an approach rooted in the principles of conflict prevention could prove both practical and effective, the paper identifies three policy areas that merit consideration by Beijing. First, it explores the diplomatic measures China could take to help mediate disputes and crises, as well as why a broadening of diplomatic relations within African countries may be required. Second, the paper draws attention to the need for China to support African efforts to tackle the proliferation of small arms whilst critically examining the end-use of Chinese-made weapons. Third, China’s economic co-operation with post-conflict African countries is identified as a means to prevent relapses into violence if it the principles of conflict sensitivity are adopted in what are especially fragile and difficult environments. 

Author Biography

Thomas Wheeler, Saferworld
Conflict and Security Advisor