The objective of this article is twofold. On one hand it elucidates the goals and dynamics of China's foreign trade policy since the 1990s. On the other hand it assesses the impact of this strategy on the development of the Central African Region as a case for China's influence on other developing countries. We observe that China is pursuing a pragmatic mercantilist policy that combines a wide array of diplomatic and economic devices. As a result the People's Republic gains ground slowly but surely. However, China's ascent does not lift the Central African states to a more favourable position in the global division of labour. We conclude that China's rise confirms the current economic position of African countries: that of a commodity supplier and a modest consumer's market.