China Center for International Economic Exchanges

Wei Jianguo: The United States Gives China a Back Thrust
Date:Feb 27,2018    Source:CCIEE

The US officials recently revealed that the United States will adjust its policy toward Africa in order to better compete with China in the African market, and strengthen its economic and trade relations with Africa. Some experts pointed out that so long as the policy change will benefit Africa, China is happy to see it happen.

Foreign media reported that the Trump administration is adjusting the US policy toward Africa and is ready to compete with other countries in Africa. In his speech delivered the 24th February, the Assistant Secretary of Commerce of the United States stated in his speech that this adjustment occurred as the United States sees China as a strategic competitor, with the aim of better competing with China.

Competing with China in the African Market

Last Friday, the US Assistant Secretary of Commerce Erin Walsh said that companies from China, India, Turkey, Japan, Europe, and the Middle East are actively looking for business opportunities in Africa and thus, the United States will continue to study new measures of making business contacts with Africa, and focus on promoting the prosperity of the United States and its influence. The Trump administration will adjust its policy for Africa from aid-centered to making more business contacts.

For a long time, the United States has provided substantial aid to Africa in many aspects such as food, disease control, and education. However, this type of assistance has not been able to help Africa to form endogenous development. In recent years, Chinese companies have done a lot of work in Africa, which has not only successfully promoted the development of the local economy, but has also had great impact on this continent. The United States treats this as a great threat to its global influence.

At an interview, Wei Jianguo, Vice Chairman of CCIEE and former Vice Minister of Commerce said that America’s policy change for Africa is a significant one, which is closely related to the following three developments.

Firstly, the China-Africa economic and trade relations have developed rapidly in recent years. The trade volume has exceeded 300 billion dollar and 54 countries and regions in Africa see their economic and trade exchanges with China as the key to their national economic development, which makes the United States very worrying.

Secondly, China proposed the “Top Ten Cooperation Programs” and promised to provide Africa with 60-billion-dollar assistance at the triennial China-Africa Cooperation Forum Summit, held in 2015. This year is crucial for the implementation of these projects. In September this year, the 7th Summit of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation will be held in Beijing again, which is one of China’s major diplomatic events. However, the United States does not want to see an enlarged influence of the China-Africa economic and trade cooperation.

Last but not least, the United States has launched several events such as the Gulf leaders summit and the US-ASEAN summit in recent years. Africa is an important region for the US and therefore, we can predict that the United States may be interested in convening a conference on African heads of state to strengthen its relations with Africa.

China and the United States have the opportunity to achieve win-win outcome

The western world has had two extreme views on Africa in the past five centuries. At one extreme, Africa is a resource treasury, at the other extreme, Africa needs salvation because the local people are poor and helpless, and Westerners think that they can realize their heroic fantasies.

However, a paper published on the website of “National Interest” points out that at the beginning of the 21st century, a very different view about Africa has emerged: Africa has become the fastest growing region in the world since 16 years ago. From 2000 to 2010, the average economic growth of the African countries was 5.4%, making the African continent one of the fastest growing regions in the world.

China has attached great importance on Africa since the 1950s and for 28 consecutive years, the Chinese Foreign Minister begins his official visit with Africa at the beginning of every year. Unlike the West, China treats Africa as a long-term business partner, it never interferes with African internal affairs. Even the U.S. media admit that China has more respect for Africa than the West does. As a result, China has become Africa’s largest trading partner today.

Obviously, the United States does not want to lose its sense of existence in Africa. The announcement of policy changes by Erin Walsh, Assistant Secretary of Commerce shows America’s determination to reshape its influence in this region. Wei Jianguo believes that China is pleased to see that the United States will strengthen economic and trade exchanges with Africa as long as this is good for Africa. At the same time, China is willing to conduct cooperation with the US on the Belt and Road project. Hopefully, China can cooperate with the United States to jointly explore the opportunity in Africa, so as to set a good example in this regard.


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