China to showcase Africa in the Year of the Dragon at 5th Forum on China-Africa Cooperation

January 19, 2012

Africa, International

China to showcase Africa in the Year of the Dragon

Africa-Asia Confidential

China’s trade with Africa has overtaken the USA’s trade with the continent and will soon rival that of the European Union

Officials are building up expectations for the fifth Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC V), which Beijing will host in the last quarter of this year. The showpiece summit, which began in 2000 and has been held every three years since, now returns in the year of the dragon – which will be doubtlessly trumpeted as auspicious for China-Africa relations. FOCAC V will fall in a busy season for Beijing, as it completes its long-gestating leadership transition at the 18th Communist Party Congress. Stability – both at home and in terms of relations with its African partners – will remain a priority.

Xi Jinping and Li Keqiang are almost certain to take the top positions; that will will make them the new national President and Prime Minister respectively. But the final line-up of the nine-member Politburo Standing Committee remains uncertain. Two prominent provincial bosses are jockeying for seats, each bringing a markedly different ideological perspective.

As the head of Chongqing province since 2007, Bo Xilai quickly made his mark with a broad crackdown on corruption and organised crime. He courted the national media and encouraged the singing of revolutionary ‘Red Songs’. Mobile phone users were relentlessly bombarded with his text messages containing choice Mao Zedong quotes.

Bo is a former Commerce Minister and, as son of one of the founding leaders of the People’s Republic, a prominent ‘princeling’. The princelings have profited handsomely by their connections to the political elite but attract public resentment for the advantages they enjoy in a wildly unequal society.
Wang Yang governs Guangdong, the most outward-looking of China’s provinces and an economic powerhouse. It was here in 1992 that Deng Xiaoping, on a southern tour that included the cities of Shenzhen, Guangzhou and Zhuhai in Guangdong, launched China’s economic transformation with the (possibly apocryphal) phrase, ‘To get rich is glorious.’Since 2007, Wang has attracted attention for his reformist style. In late 2011, a protest erupted on his turf after local leaders sold off peasants’ land in the village of Wukan. The conflict escalated until the protesters forcibly evicted the local cadres and barricaded the village. Security forces surrounded Wukan, a village of 13,000, but the expected crackdown was averted when Wang despatched a deputy to negotiate a peaceful settlement on 22 December.


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