File image of Chinese President Jiang Zemin walking to the podium to officially open the inaugural Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) on 10 October 2000 in Beijing's Great Hall of the People. AFP PHOTO/Stephen SHAVER
Reflections on the legacy of Jiang Zemin, China’s president from 1993 to 2003, who passed away on Wednesday, emphasized how he presided over a decade of explosive economic growth. Fewer have pointed out that he was also a key architect of China’s current relationship with Africa.
After the Mao era, emblematized by Chinese involvement in African anti-colonial struggles, the relationship went dormant as China focused on building economic ties with Western economic powers. When Jiang came to power in the wake of the Tiananmen Square crackdown, China was looking for new allies and markets.
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