By Nura Abdul-Rahman, Obed Kobina Nsiah, Makani Mweembe
China is now Africa’s third largest trade partner and over the years they have been thriving to move ahead of the United States and France in terms of trade with Africa. However, China’s growing interest in trade with Africa has aroused a blizzard of criticisms aimed at Beijing’s stance on vis-à-vis governance and human rights issues on the continent. Human Right Watch has alleged that ‘China’s policies in Africa have not only propped up some of the continent’s worst human right abusers, but also weakened the leverage of others trying to promote greater respect for human rights’. Most often the West is seen as the nosy ones and exploiters of Africa’s resources. This blog piece presents the tensions between the two superpowers (United States and China) in response to who has Africa’s best interest at heart as two divorced parents fighting for custody of their child (Africa).
China (One Parent): I agree with you my daughter. We both know I have advanced political ties with you which led to the establishment of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) since 2000. We meet with you every three years to find ways of improving economic development in your countries. This is what the US have found difficult to establish with you but he goes ahead to criticize our economic and trade policies.
US (Other Parent): Excuse me China! I have organized the Mandela Washington Fellowship which brings the next generation of young African Leaders together to be trained in entrepreneurship. I have even named this fellowship after one of the most prominent leaders in Africa because I care not just about your present but also your future.
China: US Please! You just started this initiative in 2010, 10 good years after we established FOCAC. Where were you all that while? When President Xi Jingping came into power, he visited three African nations in the same month he assumed presidency whereas your president, Obama only visited Ghana without even going to Kenya, his country of descent. Africa, do you remember the feud of the Kenyans back then?
US: I believe Jingping only made those visits to satisfy his county’s own national interest and not Africa’s. My dear Africa, you know China places an emphasis on the non-interference policy in domestic affairs of other countries. In other words, it is only interested in developing its economy whether or not it harms the people.
China: Wait US…
The US interrupts
US: I’m not finished China. A very typical example of this is when you supplied ammunitions to people in power to oppress the vulnerable in Sudan. I remember when the Libyan rebels asked the international community for military support to get Gaddafi out of office, China gladly turned down that request.On the other hand, US, France and Britain intervened.
China: Business is Business US! We didn’t offer help to these rebels because they were not the officially recognized power in Libya. Do not get me started on the ramifications of your support in taking Gaddafi out of power on Libya. The US are the exploiters, they are always trying to destroy the thriving African countries. Libya had a progressive economic development and was even aiming for more but these so called “life savers” destroyed the lives of Libyans. They moved from 100 to a 0.
US: And you call the killing of 200,000 innocent people within 13 months business? The ammunitions you supplied are to be blamed for this genocide. How could you be so inhumane?
Africa paces around with so much anxiety looking into the sky for godly intervention.
US: Anyway Africa, remember that China doesn’t hire your local workers and hence they do not contribute to human development in most African countries. They are only in to exploit your natural resources at your expense.
China: Hey! At the very least, that gets the work done very quickly and properly. We work in speed to promote economic development of your countries and we can assure efficiency in our activities.
US: You brag about speed while Africa wallows in unemployment? Anyway, if Africa is to decide who she wants to engage in business with without considering who interferes with her government, remember that we have the superior technology and capacity to provide an operator role in the oil and gas industry and to supply her with high-tech machinery.
China: Africa, my dear, I have been colonized before and I know how it feels to be colonized. How different is interfering with the domestic affairs of another country from colonization? Our non-interference policy is for your own good and for the good of your economic progression in terms of infrastructure and human rights.
Readers, Africa seem confused. She might need effective and efficient policies to benefit from the competition between US and China. What would you do as a policy maker?