How Angola’s honeymoon with China came to an end

By Cláudio Silva
Posted on Tuesday, 10 May 2022 21:36

Chinese President Xi Jinping meets with Angolan president Joao Lourenco at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China 9 October 2018. Daisuke Suzuki/Pool via Reuters

In 2002, as Angola lay in ruins after a 27-year long civil war, its government desperately sought western help to rebuild the country. None was immediately forthcoming, however.

International financial institutions and the Paris Club of creditor countries were wary about working with a country with a well-known propensity for corruption and a glaring lack of transparency. Indeed, the International Monetary Fund had just discovered a $4.2bn hole in the country’s coffers that authorities could not readily explain.

As the calls for democratic reform, accountability, and the embrace of rule of law grew, Angola decided to look eastward. Thus began its highly pragmatic and initially lucrative — arrangement with China.

The Angola Model

Angola and China had not always seen eye to eye.