African Studies Research Seminar: Testing for “Genuine Revolutionary Leaderships”: China’s Support of Liberation Struggles in Congo and Angola (1960-1966)

Conveners: Rachel Taylor and Abigail Branford

Speaker: Jodie Yuzhou Sun (Fudan University/Stanford University)


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This paper will examine China’s role in the Congo “crises” (1960-1965) and its extended impacts in the region, with a particular focus on Angola in leading up to the civil war in 1975. With an emphasis on “African agency” and its necessary constraints, it mainly analyses how African political parties, social groups and elites approached, deepened, and negotiated their relations with Communist China as they searched for global ideological and material support. While Chinese leaders tried to play a balance game in prevention of becoming embroiled into the factional politics of African leaderships, this was often compromised by the professional and personal goals of their African counterparts. This paper primarily draws on China’s Foreign Ministry Archives (CFMA) and the Shanghai Municipal Archives (SMA), which have been rarely consulted and published before. Building on the existing literature on Africa’s global Cold War and especially its relations with the Communist actors, these rich, detailed, and lively discussions between Chinese hosts and African delegates will no doubt help reveal some of the hidden episodes of China’s relations with Congo and Angola at the time of fierce ideological and geopolitical struggles in the Cold War. 

Dr Jodie Yuzhou Sun is Senior Lecturer in Modern African and Global History at Fudan University, China. Between 2023-24, she is a Visiting Scholar at the Center for African Studies, Stanford University. Her research interests are modern African history, Cold War history and China-Africa relations. She is the author of Kenya's and Zambia's Relations with China 1949-2019 (James Currey, 2023).