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Ethiopia, China and the Future of African Conflict

Ethiopian National Defence Forces (ENDF) soldiers shout slogans after finishing their training Dabat, northeast of the city of Gondar, Ethiopia, on September 14, 2021. Amanuel Sileshi / AFP

Ethiopia is giving us a glimpse of a set of dynamics that could come to shape African life in complicated ways. Last week, the Biden administration announced new sanctions aimed at reducing violence in the Tigray region, where conflict between the forces of President Abiy Ahmed and the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) have caused massive human rights abuses affecting millions. The sanctions will target all sides of the conflict, including Ethiopia’s neighbor, Eritrea.

China, in the form of Spokesperson Zhao Lijian, decried what he called “the wanton exertion of pressure through sanctions or the threat of imposing sanctions to interfere in other countries’ internal affairs.” This was hardly a surprise, falling in line with China’s general non-interference policy.

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