China’s response to the 2014–2016 Ebola crisis: Enhancing Africa’s soft security under Sino-US competition

Jean-Pierre Cabestan*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


The 2014–16 Ebola crisis in West Africa was China’s very first opportunity to demonstrate its willingness and ability to play a meaningful role in addressing public health emergencies of international concern. China’s decision to participate in the international response to the outbreak was part of an ambition to enhance its contribution to Africa’s security in general and health security in particular and to exert more influence on global norms. The specific role played by the People’s Liberation Army (PLA), especially its Academy of Military Medical Sciences, in Sierra Leone and Liberia is part of an ongoing effort to increase China’s involvement in international humanitarian assistance and disaster relief operations. It was the first time that it sent medical military teams to set up and operate infectious disease hospitals overseas. This participation also underscores the PLA’s crucial role in fighting epidemics overseas as well as at home, as the current COVID-19 pandemic illustrates. The Ebola crisis enables us to explore aspects of the PLA’s overseas missions, some of which are humanitarian and others which generally enhance China’s influence as a great power in Africa and in the world in the context of a growing Sino-US strategic competition.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3-24
Number of pages22
JournalChina Information
Issue number1
Early online date18 Dec 2020
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2021

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Arts and Humanities(all)
  • Social Sciences(all)
  • Economics, Econometrics and Finance(all)

User-Defined Keywords

  • health security
  • Liberia
  • People’s Liberation Army
  • Sierra Leone
  • Sino-African relations
  • Sino-US competition
  • World Health Organization


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