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São Tomé and Príncipe: more than the land of cocoa and coffee
José Leandro, F.B.S.; Lobo, A. (2020). São Tomé and Príncipe: more than the land of cocoa and coffee. China and the World - Ancient and Modern Silk Road 3(3): 2050006.
In: China and the World - Ancient and Modern Silk Road. World Scientific: Singapore. ISSN 2591-7293; e-ISSN 2591-7307, more
Peer reviewed article  

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Author keywords
    Geopolitics; Diplomacy; Gulf of Guinea; Cabo Verde; Bright of Biafra; São Tomé and Príncipe; Qatar; China and Belt and Road initiative

Authors  Top 
  • José Leandro, F.B.S.
  • Lobo, A.

    The Democratic Republic of São Tomé and Príncipe, a small and remote island state, located in the Gulf of Guinea, has long offered little geopolitical and geo-economic interest. This situation is however gradually changing. In fact, since 2016, interest in the country has begun to grow, after the country resumed diplomatic relations with People’s Republic of China (hereafter China) and recognized the “one-China policy”. While the island state and Cabo Verde have followed different development paths in the post-colonial era, both share common features and both have the potential to perform important geopolitical regional roles in the context of the Belt and Road initiative (BRI). This paper discusses São Tomé and Príncipe’s regional engagement in the Gulf of Guinea (GG), the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS), the Community of Portuguese-Speaking Countries (CPLP), and in multi-level cooperation in light of the Forum for Economic and Trade Cooperation between China and Portuguese-Speaking Countries (FM) as well as bilateral cooperation. We argue that São Tomé and Príncipe is of geopolitical value to China and that the island state will serve Chinese interests in extending the BRI in the Gulf of Guinea. The microstate of São Tomé and Príncipe has the potential to transform itself to function as the “Qatar of the Gulf of Guinea”, and contribute to regional stability by providing regional services for shipping, banking, finance, high-quality education, tourism and as an engaged partner. This paper presents a methodological theoretical-inductive and constructivist perspective, combining qualitative, quantitative and non-participant observation.

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