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SBD Global/January 12, 2017/International Football

China's Stadium Diplomacy In Africa Continues With This Year's AFCON

China’s "recent heavy investment in talent has yet to fully embrace African players, or for that matter, African coaches and managers," according to Simon Chadwick of the SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST. Off the field though, China "seems rather more taken with Africa." This year’s African Cup of Nations, hosted by Gabon, "is the latest in a long line of tournaments" into which the country has invested. Gabon previously hosted the African Cup of Nations in '12, when two new stadiums were constructed for the event which was co-hosted with Equatorial Guinea. One of Gabon’s two stadiums, in Libreville, "was funded and constructed by China." This year, "there will be an additional two new stadiums." The new venues are located in Oyem and Port Gentil. Both have been funded and constructed by China. Football, specifically the African Cup of Nations, "nicely joins the dots in a Gabonese/Chinese relationship that already sees" the African nation sending 14.2% of all its exports to its East Asian partner. China’s use of "sports stadium gifting as a diplomatic and soft power tool is now long established." For the next African Cup of Nations in '19, Cameroon will be constructing two new venues, both designed by China Machinery Engineering Corp. (SCMP, 1/11).
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