China expanding its influence in Cote d'ivoire
China has recently been expanding beyond its territorial borders.
This has recently appeared in a remarkable way.
Beijing has become keen to strengthen its presence on the African continent at the political, economic and military levels, a fact evidenced by the acceleration of rapprochement between China and Cote d'ivoire in all fields.
Emad al-Azraq, head of Tahrir Centre for Studies and Research and a researcher specialized in Chinese affairs, said the past period witnessed a growth in the rapprochement between China and Cote d'ivoire.
This was confirmed, he said, by many indicators and steps.
He referred to a rise in the volume of trade exchange between the two countries.
Ivorian imports from China rose to about $1.57 billion in 2020, up from $100 million in 2002, he told The Reference.
Al-Azraq noted that Chinese investments in Cote d'ivoire which is rich with natural resources are estimated at $7.5 billion.
He added that the recent years have witnessed military cooperation between China and Cote d'ivoire as well.
"This was evident in the arming of the Ivorian army with 50 Chinese combat vehicles to counter growing terrorist threats," al-Azraq said.
He added that diplomatic contacts have also been growing between Beijing and Yamoussoukro, following the visit of President of Cote d'ivoire, Alassane Ouattara, to China in 2018.
Cote d'ivoire, he said, tries to take advantage of Chinese support and strengthen its foreign partnership with it to revitalize its economy, especially after the severe coronavirus crisis, and attract additional Chinese companies to invest in it, especially in the field of digital economy and energy.
Al-Azraq added that Cote d'ivoire experiences difficult economic conditions.
This is why, he said, it needs to obtain Chinese financing for many of its projects, especially those related to strategic infrastructure.
"Cote d'ivoire also needs to obtain Chinese loans on concessional terms amounting to $3.1 billion," al-Azraq said.
As for Chinese motives for rapprochement with Cote d'ivoire, al-Azraq noted that this African state is a strategic gateway for Beijing to West Africa, especially after the modernization of the port of Abidjan, where a second container terminal for cargo was opened in March 2022 at a cost of $1 billion.
This, al-Azraq said, helps Cote d'ivoire become a regional shipping centre.
He noted that China contributed around 85% of funding needed for this giant project to counter Taiwanese influence in Yamoussoukro.