As a result of Western anxiety about growing China-Africa cooperation, Africa has risen from the “forgotten continent” to become a hot investment for the developed Western countries, with the continent’s economic value and geopolitical significance being “rediscovered.”
The G20 Compact with Africa conference will be held in Berlin, Germany, on Monday. European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, French President Emmanuel Macron and Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte will be among those attending the summit, hosted by German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, Reuters reported.
While the conference is aimed to bolster private investment in Africa, it does not prevent some Western countries from seeing China as an “imaginary adversary” in their much-trumpeted pivot toward Africa.
With China-Africa cooperation flourishing in the fast-growing continent, it is not hard to see that Western public opinion now regards Africa as a key region in their race with China for geopolitical influence and economic opportunities. This also explains the background behind West’s renewed interest in and increasing engagement with Africa.
Yet, China is not afraid of West’s competition in Africa so long it is fair and ethical. The more Africa cooperates with the outside world, the more stable and rich it will become, and also, the more opportunities there will be for Chinese companies to ramp up cooperation with Africa.
We always welcome normal and fair competition between EU companies and Chinese enterprises in Africa, but oppose any geopolitical narrative that attacks and slanders China and Chinese investment in Africa through biased ideological lens.
In the past many years, China has achieved fruitful results in a wide range of economic and trade cooperation with Africa. Total trade volume between China and Africa exceeded $2 trillion during the past decade, and China has always been Africa’s largest trading partner. Chinese companies have signed more than $700 billion worth of infrastructure and engineering contracts in Africa, with turnover exceeding $400 billion. And, China’s direct investment in Africa has surpassed $30 billion, making it the fourth-largest source of investment in Africa.
Moreover, China-Africa economic and trade cooperation has been extended from traditional areas to emerging fields such as the digital economy, renewable energy, aerospace and finance. Chinese companies have been actively involved in the development of Africa’s digital infrastructure, promoting the rapid growth of e-commerce, mobile payment, and the media and entertainment industries too. And, China has launched telecommunications and weather satellites for Algeria and other African countries.
With China’s spectacular rise in economic strength, it is a natural development trend for the country to strengthen economic cooperation with African countries, and China will unswervingly promote partnership with Africa and adhere to the principle of mutual benefit, mutual respect and no-interference into each other’s internal affairs. Actually, there is no need for us to be concerned whether the West will step up competition or not.
If China-Africa cooperation can bring a sense of urgency to the West or stimulate the Western countries to increase investment in the continent, it will be a welcome development for African countries, and a testament to the positive effects of China’s Belt and Road Initiative.
If some in the West treat Africa as a new battleground for gaining geopolitical influence by merely paying lip service in helping African economies, they will only make themselves unwelcome guests in the continent. This is because any strategy coming out of outdated Cold War mind-set is unlikely to win recognition among African countries.
There is a solid foundation for cooperation between China and Africa. It is absolutely impossible for the West to force China out from Africa, through any policy move or investment tactic to disrupting or damaging China’s supply chains in Africa.
Western powers owe Africa a lot for their colonization of the continent, and now it is time for them to make amends, instead of playing geopolitical games in Africa. If the Western countries are sincere about aiding African economies, they should change course, stop treating China as a strategic rival or an adversary, and cooperate with China to help Africa.