Like a troupe of wandering entertainers, Chinese officials trumpet at every possible opportunity that their country’s strategy in Africa is one of political non-interference, equality, and mutually beneficial economic agreements, a stark antithesis from the Western colonial scramble of the past.

China’s aversion from formal alliances and her decision not to comment on any of the numerous human-rights abuses that have been committed by some of her closest African partners supports that.

But whereas Chinese economic schemes aim at oil, the major driving factor of her political engagement in Angola is international credibility. China hasn’t forgotten that it was the African support, in the early 1970s, that led to her acceptance into the United Nations (UN).

With over a quarter of the 193 members of the UN being African, China understands the importance that the African continent can have on her global status. Furthermore, the ever important, for Beijing, One-China policy has found many devout followers in Africa. Out of the fifty-four African nations only four recognize Taiwan—quick hint, Angola isn’t one of them.

Also, the Chinese adherence to non-interference is extremely appealing to the corrupt Angolan officials. The dos Santos regime readily accepts China’s developmental assistance, which comes without any of the Western moralities for reform and transparency, and in return supports her in the international diplomatic stage.

The decision, in 2004, to decline the IMF’s loan due to the attached transparency reforms and adjustment structural policies confirms that. Chinese military contribution in Angola, although limited, compliments her political strategy. Since the dawn of the 21st century, the Angolan and Chinese militaries have exchanged numerous delegations. In 2004, China signed a $6 million agreement to build a training center for the Angolan military. A separate agreement of $100 million to upgrade the military communication systems soon followed (1).

By providing military assistance to Angola, China accomplishes two goals. Firstly, she enhances her status and increases her influence in the country, thus supporting her quest for legitimacy. And secondly, she ensures the stability of the current political status quo, which in return guarantees that her lucrative trade relationship remains unhindered.

More interestingly, China’s endeavor in Angola offers a blueprint to her overall strategy in Africa. In countries such as Tanzania, Zimbabwe, South and North Sudan, South Africa, Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Kenya, Mozambique, and Nigeria, to name a few, China is employing the same economic, political, and military incentives in order to gain resources and legitimacy.