US moves to increase influence among African states seen as old tricks

20 Aug, 2022 - 00:08 0 Views
US moves to increase influence among African states seen as old tricks Gerald Mbanda

The Herald

BEIJING. – Friendly cooperation between China and African countries will continue despite the latest move by the United States to increase its influence in the continent, researchers in international relations said.

“African countries have always been crystal clear on who their real partners are. China-Africa cooperation will not be easily affected by influence from outsiders,” said Zhang Yongpeng, a researcher in Western Asia and Africa studies at the China-Africa Institute in Beijing.

Zhang made the comment following a recent visit by US Secretary of State Antony Blinken to three African countries – South Africa, Democratic Republic of the Congo and Rwanda. During the visit the United States unveiled a so-called new strategy toward sub-Saharan Africa that it claims will help the country forge closer ties with African countries in economic and security matters, as well as politics and efforts to tackle climate change, among other issues.

However, the visit is widely seen as less about cooperation and more about furthering the US’ geopolitical interests in undermining Chinese and Russian influence in Africa.

Blinken’s visit came against the backdrop of the Russia-Ukraine conflict and heightened tensions following the visit to China’s Taiwan region of US House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a move that blatantly violated the one-China policy. With these developments, the US may see added reason to step up its efforts to vie for influence in Africa.

Gerald Mbanda, a researcher in Rwanda on China and Africa, said that despite the stated reasons for the Blinken visit, “it is believed that the hidden agenda is a strategy to win support of African countries in the new Cold War against Beijing and Moscow”.

The visit by the US’ top diplomat follows a tour last month by Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov taking place in four African countries: Egypt, Uganda, the Republic of the Congo and Ethiopia. Blinken’s visit was intended to undermine ties between Russia and these countries, according to Zhang. However, most African countries would prefer not to take sides and avoid falling into a pit created by the US, he said.

Mbanda said recent moves by the US, including Blinken’s African trip, show that the country is trying to edge out its perceived competitors in the region.

The US administration is uncomfortable with the China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative, which has provided much-needed infrastructure in Africa. Washington has responded to the success of the BRI with false claims that China is imposing a debt burden, he said.

On his tour to Africa, Blinken called African nations “equal partners” in tackling global problems. This is a lie accompanied by the usual Western hypocrisy when these countries deal with Africa, said Mbanda, who points to the continent’s experience with COVID-19.

“Although the US provided assistance to Africa in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic, the assistance came rather late, especially for the critically needed vaccines,” he said. “The US and other Western countries were stocking more than they needed when African countries were in dire need. China and Russia shared their vaccines with African countries even before their own citizens were fully vaccinated.” – ChinaDaily.com

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