China’s foreign policy pragmatism and influence in Algeria, Libya, Morocco and Tunisia

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This article is featured in the ORIENT IV 2021

China’s presence in North Africa is longstanding but has increased significantly since the launch of the New Silk Road in 2013. While Sino-Algerian relations are the most comprehensive, China has also engaged with the other states, albeit predominantly in the economic realm. Pursuing a geo-economic approach, Beijing is also attracted by the North African states’ geostrategic position in the Mediterranean, their proximity to Europe, and as gateways to sub-Saharan Africa. The interconnectivity of networks will serve Beijing’s Belt and Road Initiative, the hallmark of President Xi Jinping’s foreign policy. Traditionally under the influence of European and US powers, the North African states have decided since the financial crisis of 2008 and the Arab uprisings of 2011 to turn to China and other outside powers for economic cooperation, particularly to revamp their inadequate infrastructure. While China has been rather successful in establishing good rapport with all the states in the region, its soft power has yet to match its economic prowess. Nevertheless,
its health diplomacy under the COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in an increase in popularity in the region.

Yahia H. Zoubir is Professor of International Studies and International Management and Director of Research in Geopolitics at KEDGE Business School, France. He is also a Non-Resident Fellow at the Middle East Institute (Washington, DC). He is the author and/or editor of several books, such as The Routledge Handbook on China and the Middle East and North Africa (2022), Algerian Politics: Domestic Issues & International Relations (2020), North African Politics (2016), Global Security Watch-The Maghreb (2013), North Africa: Politics, Region and the Limits of Transformation (2008), etc. He has published dozens of articles in academic journals, like the Journal of Contemporary China, Foreign Affairs, Third World Quarterly, Mediterranean Politics, International Affairs, Africa Spectrum, Journal of North African Studies, Democratization, Middle East Journal, Arab Studies Quarterly, Africa Today and Middle East Policy as well as dozens of book chapters and articles in encyclopedias. His research interests focus on the foreign policies of China, Russia and the United States in the Middle East and North Africa as well as issues of international development and governance.

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