China is not a stranger in Africa. Its physical presence and shadow in Africa are ubiquitous. There is no part of the second largest continent that is devoid of Chinese presence. From trade and investments to the regular Chinese immigrants and to roads, infrastructures built by Chinese labor and capital.
Now China has another plan for Africa especially in Horn Africa where it wanted to move beyond its traditional role of Trade and Investment into Peace and Development.
But why Horn of Africa?
The Horn of Africa is also known as Somali Peninsula. Everybody wants a piece of it because of its strategic location. It is essentially five countries of Sudan, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Djibouti and Somalia. But can include Kenya, Sudan, South Sudan, and Uganda in broader definition.
China together with other world powers has their strategic presence already in the area. China has a military base with her forces in Djibouti. What make Horn of Africa attractive are the geographical location and its access to the waters of world.
“It lies along the southern boundary of the Red Sea and extends hundreds of kilometres into the Guardafui Channel, Gulf of Aden, and Indian Ocean and shares a maritime border with the Arabian Peninsula of Western Asia.”
At the China-Horn of Africa “First Peace, Governance, and Development Conference” held in Addis Ababa. China’s special envoy to the Horn of Africa, made it known that Beijing wanted to play a bigger role, beyond trade in the area, he said. “not only in trade and investments but also in the area of peace and development. This is the first time for China to play a role in the area of security.”
What is this ‘peace-keeping’?
When China becomes part and parcel of safe guarding peace, essentially ‘peace-keeping’ in the area, Beijing may not stop there. It may like to further influence a policy for her greater good because of its massive investments in the area. As it become familiar with ins and outs of a particular government, she may use internal oppositions and influences to shape a favorable policy on a resistant government.
When a particular government refuses to dance to her tune, she may find a way to get another government that is desirable to her needs.
To completely shut out China from her proposal is not the point here. But to establish process, procedures and stipulated criteria to determine how wide the door for engagement should be. To be attested to territorial integrity, to be vigilant and ready to take a stand when necessary, in order to deter any detrimental incursion to local polity.