Over the past years, China has been increasing its presence and engagement with the Arab world. Presenting itself as a more reliable partner than the US and Europe, Chinese officials have been working diligently to further develop political ties with various Arab capitals, as well as expand commercial opportunities. North Africa has been another key region for Chinese engagement. In addition to Egypt, the strategic Maghreb region has been a key target for Chinese diplomacy and investments.
China has engaged with countries of the Maghreb both bilaterally, and multilaterally through the China–Arab States Cooperation Forum (CASCF) and the Forum on China–Africa Cooperation (FOCAC). In terms of bilateral engagement, Sino-Algerian relations, initially forged in post-colonial revolutionary solidarity, are now firmly grounded in security and economic terms. In Morocco, China has signed a comprehensive strategic partnership (CSP), its highest form of partnership diplomacy. While in Tunisia, China has less of a footprint compared to Algeria and Morocco, nonetheless Sino-Tunisian trade continues to expand, as well as Chinese public diplomacy through the opening of Confucian centers in Tunis.
What are China’s objectives in the Maghreb? What is the future of Sino-Maghreb relations? Is China’s growing role in the region overstated and can China really replace Europe and the United states in terms of security and trade relations with the Maghreb? To answer these questions and more, the Hollings Center is organizing a webinar on the role of China in the Maghreb.