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China’s First Permanent Political Party School and Africa

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In 2022, China opened the first Political Party School in Tanzania in East Africa, both on the continent and overseas. The school, called the Mwalimu Julius Leadership School, initially recruited relatives of top leaders in the ruling parties of six countries: Mozambique, South Africa, Zimbabwe, Angola, Tanzania, and Namibia.[1] All the political leaders in the first group of participants are people who have governed their countries uninterruptedly since independence. The International Liaison Department (ILD) within the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) funded this political party school with 40 million dollars, and the ruling parties of the respective countries also supported it.[2] This school is advantageous for Beijing in terms of the development of the Exchange of views between the leaders as an inter-party’s diplomacy.

Like many countries in Sub-Saharan Africa, in the years of independence of Tanzania, it was influenced by Mao Zedong and CCP. This issue shows that China will also increase its influence in terms of ideology through Political Party Schools in Africa. China’s military base in Djibouti in 2017, is the first military base of this country in a foreign land. At the same time, the political parties in the six countries mentioned seem that they are willing to take lessons from China’s economic and governance model. It is possible to understand their support of the establishment of the Political Party School.

In early June 2022, a letter was written to Chinese President Xi Jinping by participants of a training workshop organized at this Political Party School in Tanzania, and Jinping replied to the letter in the same month. Jinping’s response to this letter can be considered an indicator of the importance the CCP leadership attaches to the ruling parties in Africa and the school in question. One of the students who attended the school said, “The fact that Jinping responded to our letter in a short time like a week despite having such a busy schedule shows the value he attaches to Africa-China relations.”[3]

In addition, another issue to be addressed here is China’s investments within the framework of the Belt and Road Project, which is touted as China’s grand project. Even though these investments are decreasing due to the problems created by the Covid-19 pandemic and the decline in economic growth, it is possible to state that Beijing continues to strengthen the network of ideological and diplomatic relations, which we can call the political pillar of the project in question.

The Political Party School established in Tanzania reflects the political pillar of the goals outlined in the context of BRI and at this point, it aims to develop the diplomacy network between the CCP and the ruling parties in Africa. In this context, the CCP has created an opportunity to take this goal, which it characterizes as developing and strengthening people-to-people connections, to a higher level through the party school in question.

As it can be understood, this school reveals that the Beijing administration, and naturally the CCP, attaches great importance to relations with political parties to develop people-to-people contacts and sees them as a means of spreading its ideology. It is known that the CCP has been providing party training in many regions, especially in Latin America, South Asia, and Africa for many years. However, this leadership school is the first permanent party school funded and established by the CCP. Therefore, this indicates that the CCP and the Chinese leadership will continue to establish and fund such schools to develop foreign inter-party partnerships in line with their goals.

Jinping has expressed that he desires BRI to encourage and enhance international cooperation. This can be enhanced through trade, foreign policy, diplomacy, finance, and people-to-people links, he said, thus increasing international cooperation for common development.

To some extent, BRI can be described as China’s globalization. It is claimed that China, which has been developing cooperation with the countries along the route of the project and investing in infrastructure, is taking this initiative to establish its system.

In addition to improving economic relations through infrastructure investments, Beijing has also allegedly taken steps to coordinate policy and spread Chinese-type socialist ideology within the project. At this point, however, Beijing states that the people-to-people connection is the strong social foundation of the BRI. Improved people-to-people contact and inter-party communication are seen as necessities to ensure the continuation of the project. This raises the possibility that the BRI may give rise to the concept of Chinese-type globalization.

In this context, the Beijing administration has brought Chinese media to many continents and regions, expanded the network of Confucius Institutes, and made investments in various sectors from agriculture to education, and technology to health. In this way, the Jinping administration has strengthened its communication with political parties and made important moves to establish links between think tanks, legislative bodies, and civil society organizations. This Political Party School established in Tanzania can be interpreted as one of the steps taken in this direction.

At Mwalimu Julius Nyrere, the first permanent party school established by China in Africa, classes are organized by the CCP and focus on how the party is governed, and how and in what ways the party leadership can be strengthened. In addition, Africa and China have not publicized the content of the lectures, which emphasize the promotion of the CCP’s vision through a range of topics, including what roles it should play in global affairs. In addition, it is noteworthy that the political parties of the six African countries that supported the establishment of the school have been in power since their independence. Therefore, the education provided at the school can be expected to consolidate the governance of these parties.

As a result, the CCP has put the party training it has been providing for many years in South Asia, Latin America, Africa, and many other regions permanently through the first party school it established in Africa. It can be predicted that efforts in this direction will continue. The continuation of the BRI investments, which declined and slowed down with the Covid-19 outbreak, at least on a political and diplomatic basis, is of great importance for China to spread its influence. In this context, the Beijing administration may expand its political party schools on a broader basis in the coming years and increase its influence by opening these schools on many continents and spreading its ideological system within the scope of BRI investments.


[1] Kester Kenn Klomegah, “China Opens Its First Political Party School in Africa”, Eurasia Review, https://www.eurasiareview.com/05072022-china-opens-its-first-political-party-school-in-africa/ (Date of Accession: 07.11.2022).

[2] Jevans Nyabiage, “China’s political party school in Africa takes first students from 6 countries”, South China Morning Post, https://www.scmp.com/news/china/diplomacy/article/3182368/china-party-school-africa-takes-first-students-6-countries (Date of Accession: 07.11.2022).

[3] “Contributing Youth Power to Africa’s Development and Africa-China Cooperation”, Gv.cn, www.gov.cn/xinwen/2022-06/15/content_5695865.htm (Date of Accession: 07.11.2022).

Göktuğ ÇALIŞKAN
Ankara Yıldırım Beyazıt Üniversitesi Siyaset Bilimi ve Kamu Yönetimi bölümünde lisans eğitimi alan Göktuğ ÇALIŞKAN, aynı süreçte çift ana dal programı kapsamında üniversitenin Siyasal Bilgiler Fakültesi’nde yer alan Uluslararası İlişkiler bölümünde de eğitim görmüştür. 2017 yılında lisans mezuniyetini tamamladıktan sonra Ankara Hacı Bayram Veli Üniversitesi Uluslararası İlişkiler bölümünde yüksek lisans programına başlayan Çalışkan, bu programı 2020 yılında başarı ile tamamlamıştır. 2018 yılında ise çift ana dal programı kapsamında eğitim gördüğü Uluslararası İlişkiler bölümünden mezun olmuştur. Millî Eğitim Bakanlığı (MEB) bursu kapsamında 2017 yılı YLSY programını kazanarak halen Fransa’da dil eğitimi alan Göktuğ Çalışkan aynı zamanda Erciyes Üniversitesi Hukuk Fakültesi son sınıf öğrencisidir. YLSY programı kapsamında Fas'ta Uluslararası Rabat Üniversitesinde Yönetişim ve Uluslararası İstihbarat alanında 2. yüksek lisansını yapmakta olan Çalışkan, Ankara Hacı Bayram Veli Üniversitesi Uluslararası Ilişkiler bölümünde doktorasına başlamıştır. Iyi derecede İngilizce ve Fransızca bilmektedir.