Weapons for Oil: An Analysis of Contemporary Chinese Weapons Sales to Africa in Exchange for Oil

Lauren Dickey


Since 1949, China has gradually increased the scope of its weapons sales overseas to include 40 countries, 23 of which are located in Africa. With Chinese weapons sales in 2009 reaching 946 million U.S. dollars, the global community cannot help but pay attention to China‘s overseas weapons sales model. Over the past few years, resource-rich African nations have become the center of China‘s new geopolitical strategies and the starting point for oil development and extraction programs. With decades of cooperative experience in the energy sector, Africa has become an important area through which China is able to further diversify its energy resources. While China helped Africa develop an oil market, many other forms of aid and investment were also necessary. The most important form of aid can be best seen through "goods for goods" bartering transactions, especially in the form of Chinese weapons for African oil. This article will examine the realities of weapons-for-oil transactions as well as other Chinese involvement in Africa‘s natural resources and domestic economies, paying particular attention to how China is defining its interactions with African nations as those of a socialist leader. Through research and analysis of both historical and contemporary Sino-African relations, this article will illustrate the implications continued weapons-for-oil exchanges have for the future of Sino-Africa relations as well as for the international community.


Sino-Africa Relations; Weapons Sales

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5399/uo/ourj.1.1.1541


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