Why are efforts to disintegrate China-Africa relations in bad shape?

African artists take part in the launching ceremony of the “Promotion Season for African Products Online” in Beijing, China on September 6, 2021. / CFP

African artists take part in the launching ceremony of the “Promotion Season for African Products Online” in Beijing, China on September 6, 2021. / CFP

Editor’s Note: Azhar Azam works in a private organization as a market and business analyst and writes on geopolitical issues and regional conflicts. The article reflects the views of the author and not necessarily those of CGTN.

Each year, China welcomes around 1,000 African professionals, including journalists and 80,000 students, double the number of those who travel to the United States, making it the number one training and education destination for Africa. Second behind France, the East Asian country has launched 62 linguistic and cultural centers (Confucius Institutes) on the continent.

In addition to overtaking the British Council, the German Goethe Institute and the American Centers, China replaced the United States as Africa’s largest trading partner in 2009, with bilateral trade reaching $ 200 billion in 2020.

Over the past decade, Beijing has played a central role in financing and has become the largest infrastructure financier in Africa, covering 6,000 kilometers of railways and highways, 20 ports, 80 large-scale power plants , 130 medical establishments, 45 stadiums and 170 schools.

A number of studies have refuted claims regarding China’s alleged predatory lending practices, neocolonialism, the plundering of natural resources, land grabbing and the importation of Chinese workers for construction projects. Independent surveys further revealed that Chinese companies hire up to 90% local labor and invest and “really” develop Africa’s infrastructure.

It is often claimed that bilateral trade benefits China more than Africa. The latest trade data has belied this claim, showing that its all-season ally’s Chinese imports rose 46.3% in the first seven months of the year. Over the past 20 years, Chinese investment flows to Africa have also increased by more than 25% on an annual average, reaching $ 2.1 billion for the period.

Yet Beijing’s approach to forging new ties of affinity with Africa and the African peoples continues to upset observers. They see China’s wholehearted engagement in Africa as an effort to build “soft power”, secure financial interests, gain a strategic sphere of influence and galvanize support in multilateral forums.

While the China-Africa Peace and Security Forum has extended its commitment to common, comprehensive, collaborative and sustainable security, the initiative to shape Africa’s peacekeeping capacity, to strengthening military and defense cooperation and channeling funds through the United Nations Peace and Development Trust Fund is irrationally linked to a solid foothold on the continent.

Bloody conflicts in many parts of Africa, such as the Lake Chad Basin, Mozambique’s Cabo Delgado, the Gulf of Guyana, Somalia and Ethiopian Tigray, threaten to hamper economic growth. Beijing’s security contributions have helped the region achieve peace and security objectives to advance sustainable socio-economic development.

For African countries, China’s development model for stimulating growth and reducing poverty offers a definitive version for the modernization and transformation of regional economies. The unique blend of transparent, accountable and rules-based cooperation serves the fundamental interests of the continent and the people.

Beijing is not part of any global competition to dominate Africa, nor does it want to take over the continent. What fascinates African states is the inspiring development of China, whose second largest economy in the world is more than willing to share the experience, to lead Africa to chart its own economic path.

Growing Chinese influence is fueling fears of the United States of being sidelined by China on the mainland. Washington has done its best to infect the minds of African governments over Chinese tech companies. However, most of them have not succumbed to US intimidation, as at least 266 Chinese technology initiatives are underway in the region.

Africa seeks to harness digital technologies and innovation to transform societies and economies to promote regional integration, accelerate economic growth, boost job creation and break the digital divide for the socio-economic development.

China’s commitment to foster digital collaboration, ranging from 5G to data centers, smart cities, and skills and education programs, is deliberately portrayed as a threat to Africa’s security and sovereignty .

A range of compatible Huawei P40 5G smartphones are on display at a Huawei store in the Menlyn Park shopping center in Pretoria, South Africa, August 12, 2020. / CFP

A range of compatible Huawei P40 5G smartphones are on display at a Huawei store in the Menlyn Park shopping center in Pretoria, South Africa, August 12, 2020. / CFP

Such accounts are completely baseless and ridiculously speculative. Indeed, these efforts are aimed at distracting the attention of the United States and many so-called democratic countries that spy on their own citizens and provide high-end surveillance technology, spyware, and other censorship applications through the world.

China has stepped in to fill the technological development gap in Africa, especially after the Western withdrawal of investment firms. For example, Huawei has built around 50% and 70% of Africa’s 3G and 5G infrastructure. This data center offering, created by the leader in next generation technology, would further help Africa meet the high demand for data center facilities.

Realizing China’s potential for digital connectivity and anticipating that its economy will reach the frontier of science and technology by 2049, experts believe Africa must determine how to harness educational, technological, healthy and sustainable in China.

Leaders and international organizations have blasted rich countries for hoarding and impartiality of vaccines in order to provide enough jabs to developing countries. The greediness of the rich states, forcing the global COVAX initiative to announce a reduction in vaccine deliveries to Africa by around 150 million doses, keeps Africa in the grip and widens the gap between rich and poor by hampering recovery Africa’s economy.

By that tipping point, in mid-July, China had donated or exported vaccines to some 40 African countries, more than double what Beijing pledged in February.

The operationalization of a manufacturing plant in Egypt for the production of Chinese vaccines, hailed by the World Health Organization as a good example of international cooperation that contributes to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, and another in Morocco , would help slow the spread of the virus and strengthen Africa’s capacity to meet the economic challenges associated with the pandemic.

China’s affair with Africa stems from the fervent desire of regional nations to learn from Beijing and develop their physical and technological infrastructure, boost economic growth, and lift millions out of extreme poverty. . Chinese cooperation in the fields of culture, education, finance, health, investment, security and technology enables the continent to become an important political and economic bloc in the world.

Thus, efforts to disintegrate the iron relationship or plans to compete with Beijing have gone wrong so far and would meet the same fate in the future as well.

(If you would like to contribute and have specific expertise, please contact us at [email protected])

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