China-Africa security cooperation: Promoting peace and development
Alexander Ayertey Odonkor
The third China-Africa Peace and Security Forum, Beijing, China, August 29, 2023. /CFP
The third China-Africa Peace and Security Forum, Beijing, China, August 29, 2023. /CFP

The third China-Africa Peace and Security Forum, Beijing, China, August 29, 2023. /CFP

Editor's note: Alexander Ayertey Odonkor, a special commentator for CGTN, is a global economist with a keen interest in the social, environmental and economic landscape of both developing and developed countries, particularly in Asia, Africa and Europe. The article reflects the author's opinions and not necessarily the views of CGTN.

The third China-Africa Peace and Security Forum, hosted by the Chinese Ministry of National Defence, which commenced on August 28 and ends on September 2, has brought together various bigwigs in the security sphere, including Chinese State Councilor and Defense Minister General Li Shangfu, leaders of defense departments and military chiefs of nearly 50 African countries and more than 100 senior representatives from the African Union (AU).

In a keynote speech delivered by General Li at the plenary session of the third China-Africa Peace and Security Forum, he disclosed that China is prepared to join hands with Africa to address security challenges and safeguard international equity and justice. General Li Shangfu called for enhanced China-Africa strategic communication and pragmatic cooperation – urging both parties to enhance the quality and efficiency of their security cooperation to contribute more to maintaining regional and global stability.

The forum, held under the theme of "Implementing the Global Security Initiative, Strengthening China-Africa Solidarity and Cooperation," aims to consolidate strategic communications between Chinese and African defense departments and play a positive role in building the China-Africa community with a shared future in the new era has injected new impetus and renewed efforts among key stakeholders in the region's security space – this is a step in the right direction, that will further enhance security capabilities and encourage concerted action to tackle rising insecurity on the continent.

According to the Global Terrorism Index (2023), sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) recorded the largest increase in terrorism deaths, rising by 8 percent – in fact, in 2022 60 percent, or 4,023, of all terrorism deaths globally occurred in SSA.

Faced with daunting security challenges including terrorism and violent extremism, enhanced cooperation with China, certainly expands African countries' security toolkit, an effort crucial to concerted actions designed to promote peace and stability in a troubled region – a 2022 report from the African Development Bank (AfDB) show that in 2021, more than 18,000 conflicts affected the African continent and the number of refugees and internally displaced persons reached 32 million.

An African immigrant child is seen ahead of the International Migrants Day as daily life continues in Gardaya, Algeria, December 11, 2022. /CFP
An African immigrant child is seen ahead of the International Migrants Day as daily life continues in Gardaya, Algeria, December 11, 2022. /CFP

An African immigrant child is seen ahead of the International Migrants Day as daily life continues in Gardaya, Algeria, December 11, 2022. /CFP

While rising insecurities have severely disrupted economic activities, wiped out years of hard-earned social and economic gains, and painted a gloomy picture of the future of the continent, in fact, enhanced cooperation with relevant stakeholders particularly China offers a window of opportunity for Africa to rectify the situation.

By stepping up China-Africa security cooperation, including active participation in programs of the Global Security Initiative (GSI), which aims to eliminate the root causes of international conflicts, improve global security governance, encourage joint international efforts to bring more stability and certainty to a volatile and changing era and promote durable peace and development, Africa stands the chance to win the fight against insecurity and end the canker that has plagued the continent for years.

Embarking on this journey with China means Africa is tackling its pressing challenges with support from the ideal stakeholder, its major partner which for decades has demonstrated unrivaled dedication to advance development across countries on the continent.

China, the region's biggest trading partner and largest infrastructure investor, contributed more than the other top eight lenders combined between 2007 and 2020 – across various African industries including agribusiness, transport, health, energy and ICT, Chinese experts, investors and businesses have partnered and engaged with local authorities, research institutions and enterprises – the China-Africa cooperation in various industries has boosted productivity, created new job opportunities and improved quality of living in the region.

To safeguard these investments including lives, livelihood and infrastructure from the detrimental impact of conflicts, violent extremism and terrorism, China offers essential support including humanitarian aid, military education, peacekeeping and counterterrorism assistance to countries on the continent – promoting peace, stability and development.

At the third China-Africa Peace and Security Forum, where the Global Security Initiative (GSI), proposed by Chinese President Xi Jinping, has taken center stage, the GSI, characterized by its six interlinked and mutually reinforcing commitments, offers African countries a new pathway to effectively address security challenges.

Through the GSI, which respects the sovereignty and territorial integrity of all countries, takes the legitimate security concerns of all countries seriously, and stays committed to peacefully resolving differences and disputes between countries through dialogue and consultation – Africa could root up the sources of international conflict and strengthen security capabilities, promoting peace and development.

In other words, enhanced cooperation with China, particularly through the GSI, could maintain peace and stability in Africa – creating a conducive environment for policymakers, the development community and relevant stakeholders to accelerate and protect social and economic gains – this would enable African countries to lift millions of people out of extreme poverty, provide clean water and sanitation, pursue sustainable growth and improve the quality of living of people on the continent.

Therefore, for countries across the region, including the Horn of Africa, which faces complex and multiple security challenges that have contributed to a crisis, this is the opportune time to enhance and leverage cooperation with China, particularly through the GSI to promote peace, stability and advance development.     

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