Chinese investments in Africa have multiplied in recent years, especially since the 2013 launch of the Belt & Road Initiative (BRI). But China has realized that it is a mistake to entrust security and development to trade alone.
A new generation of Chinese private security companies sees the BRI as an opportunity for lucrative contracts and international expansion, but its shortcomings are evident on the ground. Currently, the few properly certified Chinese private security companies in Africa appear to be operating semi-autonomously, oriented towards niche markets. And so far not as an extension of the state, but these companies may be the tool Beijing needs to prevent the defense of its citizens and assets from forcing it into military interventions that, for the time being, remain beyond its reach.