Tanzania’s all-weather friendship with China in the era of multipolarity and globalisation: towards a mild hedging strategy

  • Jean-Pierre Cabestan
  • Jean-Raphaël Chaponnière


How close is the Tanzanian-Chinese partnership today? Bi-lateral trade and Chinese economic presence in Tanzania are much bigger than in the 1970s; China’s “no strings attached” policy is still attractive; political solidarities and military co-operation have remained quite strong. However, this bi-lateral relationship does not have the importance, nor the exclusiveness it enjoyed in the heydays of socialism. Today, China must compete economically, politically and culturally, with the activism and soft power of a larger group of countries, particularly the United States. Although both in Dar es Salaam and in Beijing this relationship has remained presented as “special”, it has lost the structural role that it had until the late 1970s in shaping Sino-African relations. Instead, particularly since the mid-2000s, it is rather the growing Sino-American and Sino-Western competition in Africa that has structured Tanzania’s foreign policy, convincing Tanzania to adopt what we would call a “mild hedging strategy” towards China and helping it, at least to some extent, to better defend its own interests.