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The Political Ramifications of China’s Reduced Appetite for African Oil

File image of a man working in a filling station of Sinopec, China Petroleum and Chemical Corporation, in Shanghai. Johannes EISELE / AFP

News that two of China’s largest oil companies, Sinopec and CNPC, are going to scale down their presence in South Sudan provides the latest evidence of China’s waning appetite for African oil. 

This isn’t a new phenomenon. In fact, Chinese demand for African oil has steadily declined for more than a decade. In 2008, three African countries made up a third of all Chinese imports. By 2018, according to George Washington University China-Africa scholar David Shinn, only one African country, Angola, was still a major source of oil for China, and it accounted for just 18% of its total imports.

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