China’s Peace and Security Strategies in Africa: Building Capacity is Building Peace?

by Lina Benabdallah

Abstract

There is a growing body of scholarship that examines China’s security engagement in Africa. However, such scholarship largely views security cooperation in terms of military aid and military equipment and considers security from a traditional perspective. This article proposes to expand the scope of security to include non-traditional aspects of cooperation such as capacity building programs and investments in human resource development. Going beyond the view that security should be understood in terms of military hardware and naval bases, I propose a security-development nexus as a framework to understand China’s security practices in Africa. This nexus highlights the integration of security and development and views peace and conflict resolution to be the result of successful economic development. The core argument is that central to Beijing’s security strategy in Africa are not only arms sales, deployment of combat troops, or establishment of military bases, but that equally vital are investments in human resource development through capacity building programs. The article closes with a critical analysis of the development-security nexus by highlighting its major shortcomings and unintended consequences. As China’s experience in the South-Sudan indicates, over-relying on economic development as a broker for peace has its own challenges and limitations.

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Lina Benabdallah recently completed her doctoral degree in International Relations at the University of Florida. Her scholarly interests include foreign policy of rising powers and post-Western IR. Her dissertation examines Beijing’s investments in human resource development and capacity building programs in Africa.

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