Monday, February 05, 2007

China Gets Ready in Africa

A few days ago China’s President Hu Jintao visited Liberia where his counterpart Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf hosted him. Just one day before Hu’s arrival to Monrovia, the capital of Liberia, he pledged nearly 100 million USD in grants and loans to Cameroon – the first stop of his eight-nation tour of Africa. The Chinese President will also visit Sudan, Zambia, Namibia, South Africa, Mozambique and the Seychelles. Hu described his African trip as “ a journey of friendship and cooperation”. From the view of international relations this seems to be China’s new foreign strategy: they want to be strong in Africa.

Meanwhile a part of The United States’ strategy in Africa is to bomb hard-line Islamises in Somalia. Even though there are several reasons to fight against Al Qaida, China will get more credit from Africans by its diplomacy than US by its military actions. That is to say China gets ready in Africa. Chinese philosophy counts on long-term projects - they know that on one day they will beat American hegemony. It does not matter if it takes fifty years or two hundred years. They will wait. Hence it is not a bad plan to have friends all over the world – also in forgotten Africa.

Hopefully all this is good for Africa. However, I wonder what will be the European Union’s role in Africa? European politicians should consider more new development policies with Africa and China. In other words if the European Union wants to find new allies and friends it is the time to act. There ought to be a grand strategy how to deal with different players in future: especially with growing China and (hopefully) developing Africa. At the same time we should have good relationship with Americans. It is not question how to get the best benefit for Europe. It is question, for example, how to fight against global poverty or how to agree with environmental issues. To conclude in this context there are no more local politics: only global and we should admit that. Africa’s future is our future.

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