The Chinese adopted a new approach to engagement in Africa that copies the EU on governance. Led by France, Europeans reached agreement with China on Mali.
Europeans aim to cooperate with China to limit the arms trade, support good governance, and apply criteria such as the UN Millennium Development Goals to aid in Africa. The EEAS holds an annual dialogue on Africa and several member states such as France and the UK also hold bilateral dialogues. Some member states such as the UK also seek to engage China in trilateral cooperation on development aid and others such as Belgium and France seek to cooperate with Chinese companies in Africa. Denmark has partnered with UN agencies to promote cooperation with China on Africa.
Europeans attended the opening ceremony of China’s triennial Forum on China–Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) in July, but weren’t given the observer status they had wanted. At FOCAC, China announced a renewed surge of cheap loans and a new focus on regional governance and capacity building to Africans to complement infrastructure deals and cheap Chinese labour. This policy change seems to have been the result of criticism from Africans rather than European engagement with China. It remains to be seen whether it is implemented, but it already means that Africans pay more attention to action plans from Beijing than policy documents from Brussels.
In 2012, Europeans also sought Chinese cooperation in Mali, where the security situation deteriorated during the year as Islamists took over the northern part of the country. In October, China voted for UNSC Resolution 2007, which declared the situation a “threat to international peace” and opened the way for military intervention and a military training mission led by the EU. In Sudan, China was motivated by its commercial interests to take a lead itself in managing the conflict between North and South Sudan during 2012. China supported UNSC statements in March and April and Resolution 2046 in May, which demanded an end to the fighting between the two sides. The EU’s special envoy for Sudan and South Sudan, Rosalind Marsden, also went to China.