Africa not a battlefield for major power geopolitics
Would Africa have attracted such intense global interest had China not worked for mutual benefits with its partners there? The question deserves special attention. Increasingly, the long-neglected continent is seen as a land of boundless opportunities. Which is good both for overseas investors and the African people.
With its rich resources, relatively cheap labor, and unfathomable potential demand, Africa could be the last frontier of traditional development models promising lucrative returns for international investors. Foreign capital, technologies and management expertise will in turn inject vitality into Africa’s economies, and ultimately improve the livelihoods of the people there.
With what it has learnt from its own reform and opening-up, China is engaged in mutually beneficial cooperation throughout Africa. This cooperation has yielded rich fruits thanks in part to China’s longstanding policy of non-interference in other countries’ internal affairs, as well as to the historical friendships cultivated over the past decades.
Allured by the rich prospects Africa offers, an increasing number of developed countries are turning to the continent, promising handsome inputs — only that they are not just regular foreign investors eyeing profits but have the common goal of countering China’s influence there.
For instance the United States administration not only defines Beijing as Washington’s foremost “rival”, but also has repeatedly declared its resolve to take on China. And US National Security Advisor John Bolton has just pledged to respond to “predatory practices” of China in Africa and safeguard US interests there.
Even the European Union has jumped into the fray promising more investments in Africa to balance Chinese influence. At the 2018 AfricaEurope High-Level Forum in Vienna last week, EU officials were heard echoing Washington’s allegation that Chinese investments are increasing Africa’s debt burden, and vowing to not “leave” Africa to China.
Which prompted Moussa Faki Mahamat, African Union Commission chairman, to express worry that market competition in Africa is being seen through the prism of major power geopolitics. “We choose our partnerships, and create conditions based on mutual interest and benefit. Do not infantilize an entire continent,” he said.
Rwanda President Paul Kagame (who is also AU president) reinforced the message, saying Europeans need to see Africans as partners, not beneficiaries of their generosity. “…we should have a conversation about what Africa brings to the partnership and how what Europe has been offering can be offered differently, so that we get the results we want,” Kagame said.
Indeed, Africans know what it is in their best interest.
And it would be sad if Africa becomes a new playground for major power geopolitical confrontations.