In the last three decades, China has shown a lot of interest in the development of Africa. This growing interest has become a key issue among Western countries because many African countries are shifting their alliance with Western countries to China. China does not reveal its real interests in Africa. However, its activities are founded on certain key themes that include the sovereignty of African nations, mutual learning, enhancement of African development, increased cooperation with Africa on various global platforms, and respect for African countries (Shinn, 2011). Critics argue that these interests are fictitious, and China’s real interests include access to energy, minerals, and agricultural products, support in regional and international forums, increased exports to Africa, and annihilation of Taiwan’s diplomatic presence in Africa.
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Over the years, China has shown increased interest in the affairs of the African continent. This period has been characterized by China’s rapid industrial and economic growth (Shinn, 2011). It needs raw materials for its manufacturing sector and a ready market for its products. China has a policy of developing symbiotic political relations with African countries. The success of this policy is evident from China’s relations with fifty African countries. These affiliations threaten US policy because China is great at creating and maintaining state-to-state relations (Shinn, 2011). Unlike the US, China does not have military bases in Africa. Some of the United States’ interests in Africa include access to African ports for military purposes and war against illegal activities such as money laundering, terrorism, piracy, and drug trafficking. America addresses these issues because they are threats to their interests. In the recent past, China managed to overtake the United States as the main trade partner of many African countries (Shinn, 2011). 30% of China’s oil comports come from Sudan, Angola, Algeria, Libya, Nigeria, and the Republic of Congo. Imports and exports are growing gradually, and China is strengthening its trade relations with Africa.
The strong relations between Africa and China have significant implications for the US because China is offering African nations an alternative source of political and economic goodwill. This element has negatively affected the relationship between African countries and the United States. Unlike Western countries, China does not impose its policies and rules on African nations (Shinn, 2011). For example, it continues to give aid to Zimbabwe ad Sudan despite the sanctions imposed on them by Western countries. The other countries prefer conducting trade with China because it does not put pressure on them to address issues such as human rights and governance.
However, China faces numerous criticisms over its failure to promote occupational health and safety in the workplace. Changes are being made to ensure that this criticism does not compromise its positive relations with African countries. The US could lose to China with regard to investment and commercial engagement with Africa because China does not interfere with the sovereignty of African nations (Shinn, 2011). For example, China provides cheap products that people in developing countries can afford. Even though they have been criticized for low quality, these products improve the quality of lives and increase access to technological advancements.
For example, Chinese companies Huawei and ZTE are slowly edging American companies from the African market (Shinn, 2011). China also offers easy financing to its companies, thus empowering them to bid on projects in Africa. A collaboration between the Chinese government and independent companies makes it difficult for Western companies to win contracts. The high demand for African raw materials will hike the prices of global commodities. The US and other countries will incur high costs of purchasing raw materials due to China’s growing interest in Africa (Shinn, 2011). The struggle for control of African resources is resulting in a crowded diplomatic playing field that will complicate American diplomacy. It is important for the US to work together with China to end their long-standing differences.
Shinn, D. H. (2011). China’s growing role in Africa: implications for U.S. policy. Web.