Wang Reinforces Chinese-led Global South Push in Africa, Latin America Tour

Wang Reinforces Chinese-led Global South Push in Africa, Latin America Tour
Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi

The Lede: On Monday, Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi completed a tour of countries in Africa and Latin America to kick-off Beijing’s diplomatic visits for the year with a focus on strengthening ties among key partners in the Global South and finding opportunities outside of the U.S.-led international order. 

What We Know:

  • China’s foreign minister travelled to Egypt, Tunisia, Togo, and Côte d’Ivoire from January 13 to 18. For the last 34 years, Africa has traditionally been the destination of the first overseas trip taken by China’s foreign minister. Wang then visited Brazil and Jamaica from January 18 to 22.
  • The visits follow Taiwan’s latest presidential election. All six countries on Wang's tour expressed their support for the One China principle that designates Taiwan as an inalienable part of China.
  • Tunisian President Kais Saied and Jamaican Prime Minister Andrew Holness both discussed each country’s continued commitment to the BRI.
  • Wang and Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry discussed the war in Gaza as well as the disruptions that have occurred to shipping in the Red Sea. The two released a joint statement calling for an immediate ceasefire as well as the implementation of a two-state solution. Egypt has been part of BRI cooperation and China is helping it build its new capital. It also joined BRICS at the beginning of the year. 

The Background: China’s foreign policy has taken on the focus of becoming a leader among developing and emerging economies with impactful global infrastructure cooperation such as that envisioned under the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). Wang’s trip follows the Beijing central foreign affairs work conference held in December where China denounced Western unilateralism and protectionism. At the conference, Wang called for the formation of a Chinese-led global community with a shared future among Global South developing countries in a multi-polar world outside of the U.S.-led order. This year, Brazil is the chair of the Group of 20 major economies. Brazil, China, Russia, India, and South Africa are the principal members of the BRICS group of emerging nations.

Likely Outcomes:

  • These trips help China touch base with key countries in Africa and Latin American & the Caribbean as Beijing presses forward in its campaign to be a leader among Global South countries. The U.S. and Western partners may look to Wang’s itinerary as a guiding template for possible foreign policy engagement to counter China moving forward. 
  • In West Africa especially, China is positioning itself as an alternative to Western ties. Togo, Côte d’Ivoire, and other former French colonies are increasingly eager to move away from ties with France and China may be the next best option to leaders in the region. These countries are relatively vulnerable at the moment due to recent instability.
  • Egypt’s proximity to and role in the regional tensions in addition to increasingly close cooperation with China through BRI and BRICS make it a prime target for Beijing’s interest moving forward. Tunisia has much to gain in cozying up to China while benefits to larger interests to Beijing appear marginal. 
  • Brazil and China have been working closer in the past year with increased trade and even yuan adoption. They are also closely aligned as principal members of BRICS. Their ties may also become more relevant as Argentina has declined membership in BRICS with the election of the new president Javier Milei. 


“[China] never interferes in the internal affairs of any country, never engages in geopolitical scrambles and never forces other countries to take sides.” - Wang Yi, foreign minister of China 

“Possibly China sees an opportunity in the rapid escalation of anti-French feeling in the Sahel. I think the Chinese side has been able to protect its equities and to establish very strong ties with the military governments that are in place.” - Cobus van Staden, China expert at the South African Institute for International Affairs

Good Reads:

China deepens ties with Global South to counter U.S.-led order (Nikkei)

Why Chinese Foreign Minister's Visit Focuses on North and West Africa (VOA)

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi vows to help Jamaica play bigger role on world stage, hails one-China stand (SCMP)

Previewing the Chinese Foreign Minister’s Visit to Africa (The Diplomat)