Assistance of a Different Kind: Chinese Political Warfare in Ghana, 1958–1966


The recent spotlight on Communist China's relations with African nations is not the first time it has occurred, nor will it be the last. In the 1960s, similar commentators and supposed scholars on the subject brought attention to the “Red Peril” or “Red Invasion” descending onto Africa. The past obsession was with Communist expansionism; the current one, with access to raw materials and natural resources. What past and current assessments fail to account for fully, however, is Chinese grand strategy—and one grand strategic instrument, in particular, called political warfare. Long ago discarded and ignored by the Western powers, political warfare, rightly understood, is a nonviolent instrument of grand strategy involving coordinated activities that have tangible effects on intended targets. China on the African continent used this assistance of a different kind in the past and continues to use it today. This historical case study of Chinese political warfare in Ghana sheds light on China's past operations in Africa, which has direct implications for its current policies and potential responses to them.


Defense and Strategic Studies

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Comparative Strategy