The People's Republic of China's (PRC's) policy towards Africa in the 1990s has its roots in the crisis surrounding the Tiananmen Square crackdown on 4 June 1989, and the heavy and persistent criticism by the developed world levelled against Beijing's human rights record since that date. Previous to this, the importance of the African continent to China had become less and less important in the 1980s, as the Cold War underwent a thawing process and China's modernisation project demanded foreign investment and technological assistance. Though Chinese officials paid rhetorical lip service to such issues as South–South co-operation, the reality of the situation was that Beijing was mainly interested in maintaining intimate relations with those countries from which it could benefit economically. In stark contrast to China's position in the 1960s and 1970s, exhortations and propaganda grounded in Maoist foundations disappeared, for the ‘socialist modernisation’ project of Deng Xiaoping demanded economic investment and a non-conflictual approach to international politics. As a result, non-ideological relations with the United States, Western Europe and Japan based on expanding trade links and co-operation took a priority in China's foreign policy formulation.
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