From Santa Claus to serious business: Where should FOCAC go next?

  • Ian Taylor


The Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) is a platform established by the People’s Republic of China (PRC) in collaboration with African countries for collective consultation and dialogue. Established in 2000, FOCAC ministerial summits take place every three years, alternatively in China and then Africa. The existence of FOCAC might be best seen as the institutionalization of Sino-African relations at a time of intensified interactions and following a period of exponential growth in such linkages. It is also then formalization of relationships which have been long in existence and which can trace their direct origins back over 50 years. The first Forum met in October 2000 in Beijing and was attended by nearly 80 ministers from 44 African countries. The second ministerial conference was held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, in December 2003 and passed the Addis Ababa Action Plan (2004–2006). The FOCAC Summit and the third ministerial conference were held in Beijing from November 2006, while FOCAC IV met in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, in November 2009. FOCAC V meets in Beijing in the last quarter of 2012 and it is in this context that this work seeks to critically evaluate the FOCAC.