Foreign Policy Blogs

United States Watching China in Africa

The Wall Street Journal recently ran a piece detailing some of the methods behind China’s expansion into the African continent. The informative article not only does a nice job detailing specific cases of African and Chinese government business partnerships, but ties in how what is being exchanged it not just money and goods, but also a way of governing and developing:

“China’s model is telling us you can be successful without following the Western example,” said deputy prime minister Arthur Mutambara, a member of an opposition party locked in awkward coalition with Mr. Mugabe, who has deep ties with Beijing.

The U.S. is the largest foreign donor to Zimbabwe, according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, which doesn’t count China as a member. The U.S. funnels much of its assistance through nongovernmental organizations, some of which are critical of Zimbabwe’s government. That hasn’t gone down well with many officials. “China is my favorite country,” said Mr. Mutambara a 45-year-old politician who attended U.S. universities.

Now, the US and the West shouldn’t jump up in alarm just from a few quotes from one government co-leader, but the statistics of economic influence should make them pay attention if they haven’t already:

China is now the continent’s largest trading partner, edging out the U.S. Last year, its trade with Africa reached $114 billion, up from $10 billion in 2000 and $1 billion in 1980, according to China’s State Council, or cabinet.

On a continental scale, China’s deal-making pace far exceeds the U.S.’s, according to Mthuli Ncube, Chief Economist at the African Development Bank Group. He estimates Chinese firms accounted for 40% of the corporate contracts signed last year, to 2% for U.S. firms.

United States Watching China in Africa

Where are the American firms? What is keeping them from finding partners across Africa? Are these findings just a blip on Africa’s historical train or is the United States missing a boat that is not coming back? I don’t want to overstate this trend, but when one looks at these findings in the light of the current fiscal situation of the United States and Europe, well, it can make one believe that we are seeing a fading power being replaced by a rising one.

 

Author

Patrick Frost

Patrick Frost recently graduated from New York University's Masters Program in Political Science - International Relations. His MA thesis analyzed the capabilities and objectives of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization in Central Asia and beyond and explored how these affected U.S. interests and policy.

Areas of Focus:
Eurasia, American Foreign Policy, Ideology, SCO

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