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Rediscovering the Ancient Routes and Interactions between China and Africa
International Seminar
21 Septembre 2024 - Beijing, China
Co-Convened by AFROSPECTIVES, China World Peace Foundation and UNESCO Silk Roads Programme

Dating back to the first millennium BCE, the historical interactions between Chinese and African populations form a rich tapestry of cultural exchange. This seminar aims to uncover these ancient connections along the Silk Road, emphasizing the depth and significance of these early relations beyond contemporary geopolitical and economic ties. Recent research reveals that interactions between China and Africa date back to the early 1st millennium BCE, following both Continental and Maritime Silk Road routes. Notable evidence includes Chinese silk found in ancient Egyptian tombs and coins from the Song, Ming, and Qing dynasties discovered in Mogadishu and Kilwa.

African and Chinese scholars are delving into these early trade connections and the presence of Africans in China and vice versa. Historical figures like Sa'id of Mogadishu, who studied Mandarin and served as an ambassador in China, highlight the depth of these ancient interactions. The voyages of Chinese Admiral Zheng He to East Africa further illustrate this rich history. These enduring connections, though historically significant, remain under-researched compared to modern China-Africa relations. This seminar seeks to deepen mutual understanding by exploring ancient ties, paving the way for future cooperation.

Aligned with UNESCO's Silk Road Project, this initiative fosters dialogue and appreciation of shared cultural heritage. Jointly organized by the China World Peace Foundation and Afrospectives, in partnership with UNESCO's Silk Roads Programme, the seminar aims to illuminate the profound historical links between Africa and China and inspire ongoing collaboration.




  1. Cultural Exploration: Contribute to the development of knowledge on ancient relations between Africa and China, emphasizing the cultural exchanges between Africa and China along the Silk Road.

  2. Historical Contextualization: Place current relationships between Africa and China in a historical perspective, fostering a nuanced understanding of shared histories.

  3. Intercultural Dialogue: Better understand  intercultural dialogue between Chinese and African peoples throughout history, identifying cultural similarities and differences.

  4. Foster Mutual Understanding: Contribute to the mutual understanding, and respect between African and Chinese peoples by appreciating their shared heritage.

Amongts the speakers:



Former Head of the History and Memory for Dialogue Department at UNESCO,


Prof. Dr. LI Anshan

Director of Institute of Afro-Asian Studies and Center for African Studies, School of International Studies, Peking University

Augustin Holl Afrospectives
Augustin HOLL


Director of African Research Center

University of Xiamen

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Prof Li Hongfeng

Dean of the School of African Studies at Beijing Foreign Studies University

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Li Ruohong

Chairman of the China World Peace Foundation and President of the Beijing International Peace Culture Foundation

Prof Chapurukha Kusimba

Distinguished Professor of Anthropology at University of South Florida

Prof Shadreck Chirikure

Director Research Laboratory for Archaeology and Professor at University of Oxford.

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Prof WANG Jinjie

Deputy Secretary-General of the Centre for African Studies in Peking University


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