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Wednesday, 4 January 2012
US Attempts at Countering Chinese Influence in Africa.
Monday, 10 October 2011 07:11
By Eric Murray
The US is planning to take further steps to create new instruments and institutions in a bid to strengthen the African Consensus as a major mechanism to check the growing economic influence of China in Africa. Until the U.S. gets to accept China as legitimate competitor and partner in Africa, relations between the two will remain fundamentally insecure.
The US and Growing Chinese Influence in Africa
There are different ways of looking at the decline of US power in the world, prominent among which is the rising influence of China in Africa. And the US can do very little about it. True, the Chinese are building their Navy, a historic precursor to expanded ambitions and global conflict. But the US can check that by continuing to build its military well ahead of Beijing. However, it can’t do the same, or it is unable to arrest the growing influence of China in Africa. These days it’s impossible to think about America and its future role in the world without also thinking about China’s growing influence, if not domination, in Africa.. The United States can become the leading player in a pluralistic international system rather than a “hyperpower” or hegemon, whose persuasiveness extends only as far as its military reach? Nobody denies that the United States is uniquely equipped to wreak physical destruction anywhere it wants. However, in economic terms and soft power particularly in Africa, the US is clearly on the defensive. According to US officials “China has become a very aggressive and pernicious economic competitor with no morals” in Africa. This may be true, but the real question is how does the US fare any better and how is it responding to the so-called China threat? Unable to take the lead it is forced to countering Chinese influence in the continent. And yet it doesn’t have a coherent strategy, rather what we see is a disparate but quickly assembled set of measures. These include the following:
The operationalization of the New US Africa Command/AFRICOM/, to which the Peoples Daily of China referred to as ‘unpleasant and arrogant’. Displacing China from oil rich regions such as Sudan, Libya through war and Angola, Tunisia, Egypt, Nigeria and Algeria through diplomacy could be part of the plan. Another consideration is the war on terror, which also helps to control oceans and main ports around the continent. As one US official puts it” we need a sea-denial capability of our own that comes with US Navy Seal control.” And this is on the top of the existing military bases around the world. America currently maintains more than seven hundred bases on foreign soil, including in Europe, Asia, Africa and the Middle East. Another side of the strategy is political and propaganda warfare. And Western narrative characterizes China as a new imperialist power in Africa. Not just the content but even the tone of this characterization can resemble the emanations from China hawks in the United States. This doesn’t preclude a counter offensive strategy on the Chinese economic model and its relevance to Africa. A good example being the Article of the US drafted African Consensus Resolution adopted on April 27, 2011 by the NGO Forum in Banjul, the Gambia. The resolution underscores Africa have largely ignored traditional knowledge in favor of imported economic models (such as the Chinese model), which are often unconnected to realities on the African continentContinued