China is Africa’s largest trading partner. Its infrastructure investment are large and growing, although total Chinese investment in Africa is less than U.S. investment.
If all goes well, the infrastructure investments will result in building up Africa’s export industries, which will be used to pay off the Chinese loans. If not, China will still have a claim on the food, energy and mineral resources of Africa, much as European and American banks did in an earlier era.
The United States meanwhile is increasing its presence in a different way. Investigative reporter Nick Turse, whose articles are posted on TomDispatch, reports a growing number of secret U.S. military site in Africa, to advise and help the armed forces of African countries and supposedly to be in place to fight terrorists.
Which will be stronger in the long run—China’s economic influence or American military influence?
I think some Africans probably resent the growing power of China as a foreign economic power operating in their countries.
I think some African leaders would be grateful if the U.S. military could provide effective help against the Boko Haram terrorists in Nigeria or the so-called Lord’s Resistance Army in central Africa.
But overall, I’d bet on China. The Chinese are creating jobs and building useful and visible public works, which foreign military bases and the presence of foreign troops are always resented.
I am neither smart enough nor stupid enough to try to predict predict what the future may hold. China may not be able to sustain its investments. The United States may use its leverage in the International Monetary Fund and other international institutions to sabotage China’s economic strategy. The United States may reverse its policy of global militarization.
The reason I think China has the advantage is that the Chinese economic strategy adds to Chinese strength as a nation, while the U.S. military strategy is a drain on American strength as a nation.
AFRICOM’s New Math, the U.S. Base Bonanza and “Scarier” Times Ahead in Africa by Nick Turse for TomDispatch.
America’s Secret African Drone War Against the Islamic State by Nick Turse for TomDispatch.
China’s Investment in Africa: the African Perspective by Steven Kuo for Forbes.
The Long Term Dangers of Chinese Investment in Africa by Ujo Okoye for the Diplomatic Courier.
Top 10 Misconceptions About Chinese Investment in Africa by Codrin Arsene for CongoForum.
The IMF Changes Its Rules to Isolate China and Russia by Michael Hudson.