China–Tanzania relations

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China–Tanzania relations
Map indicating locations of China and Tanzania



China–Tanzania relations refer to the foreign relations between China and Tanzania. China established diplomatic relations with Tanganyika and Zanzibar on December 9, 1961, and December 11, 1963, respectively. When Tanganyika and Zanzibar were united and became Tanzania on April 26, 1964, it was natural for China to extend its diplomatic ties with it.[1]

Political ties[edit]

Economic ties[edit]

From the outset of bilateral relations, China has assisted Tanzania with a variety of generous economic aid programs. The most notable early aid project was the TAZARA Railway built from 1970 to 1975 with Chinese funding, labor and technical assistance. The 1,860 km railway connects landlocked Zambia with Dar es Salaam. The Chinese government sent as many as 56,000 workers, and has continued to aid the railway in the decades since.

Elephant poaching and Chinese nationals[edit]

The published report of the 14th meeting of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (3–15 June 2007 at the Hague, Netherlands), expressed explicit concern over the

involvement of Chinese nationals in the direct procurement of ivory in elephant range States in Africa. The ETIS data illustrate that Chinese nationals have been arrested, detained or absconded in at least 126 seizure cases – representing some 14.2 tonnes of ivory – which have occurred in, or originated from, 22 African elephant range States, including Botswana, Cameroon, Congo, Côte d’Ivoire, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Ghana, Guinea, Kenya, Liberia, Malawi, Mali, Mozambique, Namibia, Nigeria, Senegal, South Africa, the Sudan, Uganda, the United Republic of Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe. This is a relatively recent phenomenon as 87 % of these cases occurred in the most recent period since 1998. With an already strong and growing economic presence throughout Africa, Chinese nationals are now well positioned to exploit direct sources of illicit ivory in a manner that was not the case in the past.[2]

In its 2013 report Transnational Organized Crime in Eastern Africa: A Threat Assessment, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime found that

China’s recent wave of investment in Africa has brought thousands of Chinese executives and workers to the continent, including countries where ivory is openly sold, often carved into items for the Asian market. It may be transported in luggage or by post in small quantities, for personal use or re-sale at great profit in Asian markets. The quantities involved are generally small (although tusks cut into suitcase-sized chunks have been detected), but, due to their frequency, could constitute a major source of supply.[3]

Chinese nationals on the ground in Tanzania have been jailed in connection with large-scale interdictions. In November 2013 three Chinese nationals were arrested in Dar es Salaam with a stockpile of 797 tusks.[4]

Growing purchasing power among Chinese tuhao and baofahu[5] has combined with corruption among Tanzanian rangers and police[4] to devastating effect. Between 2010 and 2013, over three tonnes of ivory has been seized in Tanzania, and two-thirds of the elephants at Selous Game Reserve—Tanzania's largest—have disappeared.[4]

According to the United Nations report, the link between Chinese demand and Tanzanian supply is the single most destructive influence on the African elephant population:[3]

  • Recent research indicates that the rate of poaching in Eastern Africa has increased, rising to levels that could threaten the local elephant population.
  • The bulk of the large ivory shipments from Africa to Asia appears to pass through the container ports of Kenya and the United Republic of Tanzania, where interventions could be addressed.
  • It is estimated that between 5,600 and 15,400 elephants are poached in Eastern Africa annually, producing between 56 and 154 metric tons of illicit ivory, of which two-thirds (37 tons) is destined for Asia, worth around US$30 million in 2011.
  • Expatriate Chinese residents in Eastern Africa comprise some of the most important middlemen. Although they have taken measures to address the illicit trade, Thailand and China remain two of the most important destinations.
  • Recent Interpol operations...have found a growing number of carved objects...with vendors speaking Chinese to their clients.

In the immediate aftermath of the UNODC findings, Tanzania's Deputy Minister for Natural Resources and Tourism was forced to respond to citizen complaints of "... Chinese nationals, engaging in the massacre of our animals and transporting them to their countries for their own benefit."[6] Lazaro Nyalandu said that the government of Tanzania would take action against poachers without regard to their countries of origin, and that any threat against tourism revenues would be taken seriously.[6]

In March 2014 Chinese national Yu Bo appeared before the Kisutu Resident Magistrates’ Court in Dar es Salaam, accused of illegally collecting 81 elephant tusks. Yu petitioned for leniency, citing his several dependants and lack of criminal history, as he entered a guilty plea. Senior Resident Magistrate Devota Kisoka imposed a fine of 9,781,204,900 Tanzanian shillings, in default of which Yu is detained in Tanzania pending appeal of a 20-year sentence.[7] Chinese officials have taken steps to curb the influx of illegal ivory[2]—of the 900 ivory seizures performed annually in China, 90% involve items uncovered in hand inspections of travellers' luggage[8]—and they are not known to have offered legal-, financial-, or political assistance to Chinese nationals suspected of poaching in Tanzania.

Chinese development finance to Tanzania[edit]

From 2000 to 2011, there are approximately 62 Chinese official development finance projects identified in Tanzania through various media reports.[9] These projects range from the Chinese government's efforts to launch the Tanzania Agricultural Development Bank,[10] to a loan of $400 million to help alleviate the Kiwira coal mine's financial problems,[11] and the construction of the Benjamin Mkapa Olympic Stadium, namely the National Stadium.[12]

See also[edit]


  • Cardenal, Juan Pablo; Araújo, Heriberto (2011). La silenciosa conquista china. Barcelona: Crítica. pp. 49, 193, 194. (in Spanish)


  1. ^
  2. ^ a b "Fourteenth meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Flora and Fauna" (PDF). The Hague, Netherlands. 3–15 June 2007. p. 38. Archived from the original (PDF) on 19 September 2013. Retrieved 19 June 2014.
  3. ^ a b Lungameni, Loide (September 2013). "Trafficking of Ivory From Eastern Africa to Asia" (PDF). Transnational Organized Crime in Eastern Africa: A Threat Assessment. United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, Vienna. Retrieved 19 June 2014.
  4. ^ a b c Lawi, Joel. "Corruption in High Office Nourishes Poaching". Tanzania Daily News. TSN Media. Retrieved 19 June 2014.
  5. ^ Russo, Christina. "A Young Chinese Conservationist Discusses His Country's Role in the Ivory Trade". A Voice for Elephants. National Geographic. Retrieved 19 June 2014.
  6. ^ a b Lawi, Joel. "Foreign Nationals Warned Against Poaching". Tanzania Daily News. TSN Media. Archived from the original on 19 June 2014. Retrieved 19 June 2014.
  7. ^ Kapama, Faustine. "Chinese Poacher Fails to Pay Sh9bn Fine, Jailed 20 Years". Tanzania Daily News. TSN Media. Retrieved 19 June 2014.
  8. ^ Levin, Dan (March 1, 2013). "The Price of Ivory - From Elephants' Mouths, an Illicit Trail to China". New York Times. The New York Times Company. Retrieved 19 June 2014.
  9. ^ Austin Strange, Bradley C. Parks, Michael J. Tierney, Andreas Fuchs, Axel Dreher, and Vijaya Ramachandran. 2013. China’s Development Finance to Africa: A Media-Based Approach to Data Collection. CGD Working Paper 323. Washington DC: Center for Global Development.[permanent dead link]
  10. ^ Strange, Parks, Tierney, Fuchs, Dreher, and Ramachandran, China’s Development Finance to Africa: A Media-Based Approach to Data Collection.
  11. ^ Strange, Parks, Tierney, Fuchs, Dreher, and Ramachandran, China’s Development Finance to Africa: A Media-Based Approach to Data Collection.
  12. ^ Strange, Parks, Tierney, Fuchs, Dreher, and Ramachandran, China’s Development Finance to Africa: A Media-Based Approach to Data Collection.