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A Chinese school for African dictators

Groundbreaking ceremony of the Mwalimu Julius Nyerere Leadership School in Tanzania. Xinhua

Thirty miles outside Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, is a “vast” school complete with “banquet hall, gyms, tennis courts and more than 300 hotel-style rooms with Chinese-made furniture”, says Bethany Allen-Ebrahimian in Axios. Here, at the Mwalimu Julius Nyerere Leadership School, the Chinese Communist Party teaches African leaders “its authoritarian alternative to democracy”. Funded by a $40m CCP donation, the institution is a partnership between China’s ruling party and those of six African countries: Tanzania, Mozambique, Namibia, Angola, South Africa and Zimbabwe. All six countries are democracies, but their governing parties share a key feature: “each has ruled continuously for decades”.

Chinese teachers instruct promising young African officials in “party governance, party discipline, anti-corruption methods, Xi Jinping Thought, and poverty alleviation”. A key idea is a system originally developed by Vladimir Lenin: that the ruling party “should sit above the government and the courts”, unencumbered by constitutional and legal restrictions. It seems to be a mutually beneficial relationship. African leaders see China’s model – strong government leadership over a capitalist economic system – “as a way to break through stagnation, corruption and enduring poverty”. China, meanwhile, can benefit from an “authoritarian-friendly political bloc” to help reshape global institutions, support its territorial claims in the South China Sea, and guarantee markets away from Western sanctions. It’s “the strongest evidence yet that Beijing is exporting its model of governing” to challenge the US-led world order.