How much can Raytheon, Mastercard, Nokia, Monsanto and the like be trusted to invest in long-term outcomes in the global South? When you see the actors behind U.S. ‘aid and development’ in Africa, is it any wonder that African leaders would look for any other partner to work with?
by Jim Carey
Part 4 - China will drive African prosperity and security
The U.S. will attempt to create an idea that China is somehow “preying” on African nations (as if the West would never!), but it seems genuinely that this isn’t’ the case. What is really happening is that Africa is choosing to work with China and this, in turn, means that the U.S. stake in the continent is reduced and replaced by Chinese interests.
Concerns about the declining U.S. role in the continent are even surfacing in the U.S. military, which feels China will throw off “anti-terror” operations in Africa by stabilizing the continent and pushing U.S. security interests out. The U.S. military has expressed concern about this for years and now their fears seem to be playing out, as China increases security cooperation with partner states and has even built its first military base in Africa, just miles down the road from a U.S. base in Djibouti.
However, the big subversion of U.S. interests that is still forthcoming is the upset victory of Chinese investment over U.S. capital. Not only is China investing more money in Africa, Chinese projects and investment have proven to be much more popular than U.S. involvement in African countries.
In 2015, Chinese President Xi Jinping announced a new era of “win-win” development in Africa that would allow investors to “do good while doing right,” and it now seems to not only be paying off for the firms involved but also for the people of Africa. It should come as no surprise that Africans are rejecting U.S. aid and investment — which is often highly conditional or implemented with violence, while China works as an honest broker respecting African nations’ preservation of sovereignty and self-determination.
The U.S. continues to combat this freedom of the African partners by labeling it as “Chinese influence” and putting out “news” stories of “Chinese interference,” such as the one behind China’s alleged involvement in the recent coup in Zimbabwe that ousted President Robert Mugabe. According to U.S. sources such as CNN, China was guilty of facilitating the coup by Mugabe’s ousted Vice President because they didn’t do anything to stop it.
How CNN sees this as interference is unclear, but it demonstrates a general feeling among the U.S. elite that China is somehow cheating and that a major reason Africans prefer Chinese partnership to that of the U.S. can’t simply be Beijing’s respect for their partners’ sovereignty and internal affairs. However, this seems to be the reality. If the U.S. doesn’t figure that out soon, it is likely to be left in the wake of progress emanating from Beijing.