The Confucius Institute at the University of Helsinki held an academic seminar focusing on the topic: China and Africa in regional and global governance on Monday April 3, 2017. The main speakers were Dr Niall Duggan, University College Cork, Ireland and Dr Obert Hodzi, University of Helsinki, Finland.
Dr Duggan focused his presentation on the securitisation of China-Africa relations. The main premise of his argument was that China is realigning its national role conception as a responsible great power with its expected international role. As China’s global influence increases, Western powers and African countries expect it to take more international peace and security responsibilities. From the case of Libya to peacekeeping in South Sudan and Mali to anti-piracy missions in the Gulf of Aden, China’s role as a responsible actor is emerging. In his commentary of the Dr Duggan’s presentation, Professor Barry Gills, University of Helsinki located China’s increased role in African security within the South-South cooperation discourse. He wondered whether China will take advantage of the current upheaval in the liberal international order to build an alternative global security order or simply replicate the North-South relations in the current global order.
Dr Hodzi examined interlink between legitimation and ‘reverse socialization’ within the context of China’s rising influence in Africa. He maintained that current strains within the liberal international order are creating space and opportunities for non-Western powers like China to challenge the legitimacy of a United States hegemony. He suggested that China has begun to influence reconstruction of international norms, such as the “Responsibility to Protect” in a manner that is motivating African countries to question their Western socialization. In that respect, China is providing scope for an alternative global governance model. Dr Jyrki Kallio, Finnish Institute of International Affairs opined that there is need to examine further whether China is actively seeking to establish an alternative order or it is African countries that are pushing for China to establish the alternative order. Understanding who is driving who will enable a nuanced analysis of China global governance strategy. In concluding the seminar, Professor Julie Yu-Wen Chen emphasized that there is need for more discussions on the role of China in global governance vis-à-vis the current global shifts.
This report is written by Dr. Obert Hodzi, postdoctoral researcher at UH Chinese Studies.