The rise of China as a key actor on the African continent is challenging the Eurocentric historiography that has underpinned the West’s policies towards African countries. In order to bolster the Sino-African relationship, Beijing is propagating a range of new historical narratives about African history and the Sino-African relationship. These represent China’s recent actions on the African continent as incarnations of a long historical tradition of friendship and anti-colonial support, legitimizing Chinese policies as well as delegitimizing Western powers’ economic and political strategies. Recent trends in Chinese politics have further accentuated this strategy, as Xi Jinping has underlined that “The Chinese history should be well told”, and the Chinese media footprint in Africa has been rapidly expanded as part of a more assertive foreign policy posture in the region.
Bjørnar Sverdrup-Thygeson is pursuing a PhD in International Relations at the LSE, after studies at Oxford and universities in Norway and China. He is associated with the Norwegian Institute of International Affairs, specializing in Chinese foreign policy and international relations theory, and has published on a range of topics related to Chinese foreign policies of the past and present.