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Africa Center - Emerging Powers in Africa II

Africa Center - Emerging Powers in Africa II

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Published by David Shinn
Remarks on the engagement in Africa of emerging nations including China, India, Brazil, Russia, Turkey, Iran and Vietnam. Revision #5 of remarks given earlier.
Remarks on the engagement in Africa of emerging nations including China, India, Brazil, Russia, Turkey, Iran and Vietnam. Revision #5 of remarks given earlier.

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Published by: David Shinn on May 04, 2012
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Emerging Powers in Africa
Introduction to African Security IssuesAfrica Center for Strategic StudiesNational Defense UniversityFort McNairWashington, D.C.4 May 2012Remarks by David H. ShinnAdjunct Professor, Elliott School of International AffairsGeorge Washington University
Introduction
The end of the Cold War resulted in the strategic disengagement of westerncountries, including the United States, from Africa. They continued their trade, aid andassistance relationship with Africa, but once the threat of communist expansiondisappeared, the West interacted with the continent in a different way. This changepermitted an opening for a variety of emerging countries to expand their ties with Africa.As some of these emerging non-African countries became economically strong, theyincreasingly replaced western influence and engagement in Africa, particularly in certaincountries. This new development has fundamentally changed the relationship betweenthe fifty-four countries of Africa and the rest of the world.China is the most important emerging actor in Africa today. In fact, China hasbecome the principal non-African presence
 — 
western or non-western
 — 
in a number of African countries. Other emerging countries are also rapidly expanding their activities onthe continent. Most notable is India, which has long-standing ties to East Africa andSouth Africa. Brazil is coming on strong in Africa and Russia is returning following itsmuch reduced role after the collapse of the Soviet Union and end of the Cold War. Iranhas increased its engagement across Africa. Turkey and several Gulf States are showingsignificant interest in Africa, especially in North Africa and the northeastern quadrant.Cuba, following major Cold War military involvement in Angola and Ethiopia, virtuallyabsented itself from the continent but is slowly returning. Even countries like Vietnam,which was never much involved in Africa, are beginning to make their presence known.I will limit my remarks to China, India, Brazil, Russia, Iran, Turkey and Vietnam.
China
China has a long history in Africa; modern China shifted its focus from supportfor African liberation movements and ideologically like-minded governments in the1950s and 1960s to an emphasis by the mid-1990s on commercial ties and practicalpolitical collaboration. China has four principal interests in Africa:
 
Increasing access to energy, minerals, timber and agricultural products.
 
Developing good relations with all African countries so that China can count ontheir support in regional and international forums.
 
2
 
Ending Taiwan’s official diplomatic presence and replacing it with recognition of 
Beijing.
 
Increasing significantly China’s exports as African economies become stronger 
and Africans become wealthier.Looking at these four interests in sequence, China imports about one-third of itstotal oil imports from Africa. It is important, however, to keep this in perspective.
China’s imports constitute only about 13 percent of total African oil exports while th
eUnited States and Europe each import about one-
third of Africa’s total oil exports
because of their higher total demand. China is, however, interested in more than Africanoil. It imports large quantities of cobalt, manganese, tantalum, bauxite, iron ore, and coalfrom Africa. These imports of raw materials from Africa and other parts of the world
sustain China’s rapidly growing economy. Without strong economic growth, the current
leadership of the Chinese Communist Party would be hard pressed to remain in power.China has a long-term strategic interest in African natural resources.
Africa’s fifty
-four countries constitute well over one-quarter of the United
 Nations’ 193 members. While China holds a veto power in the Security Council, Africa
has three non-permanent seats on the Council. Africa is also well represented inorganizations of interest to China like the UN Human Rights Council and the WorldTrade Organization. The Africans do not, of course, vote as a block, but China makesevery effort to cultivate the maximum number of African countries on all issues of interest to Beijing that arise in international forums. In some cases, like-minded Africangovernments use the Chinese just as the Chinese use them, for example when contentiousissues affecting China or a particular African nation arise in the Human Rights Council.When Tibet became an issue in 2008, China leaned on the Africans to remain silent oreven make supportive statements. They did. African countries can depend on China toavoid raising controversial African human rights issues in the Human Rights Council andperhaps even to support them when they are criticized by western countries.The position of Taiwan in Africa is more important to China than most observersappreciat
e. Beijing has never retreated from its insistence on the “One China” policy.
Equally important, China has never forgotten the fact that African states were
instrumental in 1971 in replacing Taiwan with the People’s Republic of China on the
United Nations Security Council. Only four African countries
 — 
Swaziland, BurkinaFaso, Gambia and Säo Tomé and Principe
 — 
still have diplomatic relations with Taiwan.Near the end of 2008, following the election of a new president in Taiwan, Taipei andBeijing reached an unofficial truce whereby they agreed not to actively solicit countriesthat recognize one country to switch to the other.
In 2009, China passed the United States and became Africa’s most important
trade partner. It retains that title; in 2011, China-Africa trade totaled $150 billion.
 Nevertheless, only about 4 percent of China’s global trade is with Africa while more than13 percent of Africa’s trade is with China. Except for 2009, when Africa had a large
trade deficit with China, there has generally been a balance over the past decade. Thereare, however, large country-by-country disparities. Some fifteen African oil and mineralexporters have large surpluses with China, while more than thirty African countries,including the poorest ones, have significant deficits. Five African oil and mineralexporting nations account for about 78
 percent of Africa’s exports to China.
 
3
While these are China’s principal interests in Africa, they are not the only ones.
Foreign investment is becoming more important. The West still accounts for most of theforeign direct investment in Africa, but China has been more aggressive than westerncountries in recent years.
China’s FDI in Africa could be as high as $4
0 billion, most of it in oil, banking, manufacturing and extractive industries. This constitutes, however,
only about 4 percent of China’s global FDI. The main recipients of Chinese
investmentare South Africa, Nigeria, Zambia, Algeria, DRC and Sudan. Chinese companies are alsomore willing than western companies to take risks in Africa. This may be explained by
the fact that most of China’s large companies are state
-controlled.One of the tactics for increasing its influence in Africa is a growing assistanceprogram. China is not transparent with its aid statistics, and it is difficult to equateChinese assistance with the OECD definition. Chinese OECD-equivalent aid to Africahas been running at about $2 billion in recent years. One particularly successful programdating back to 1963 is the sending of medical teams to African countries. By 2009,China had sent 18,000 medical personnel to forty-six different countries and treated, itsays, 200 million patients. China also started a youth program, which now has more than300 volunteers in African countries and is similar to the U.S. Peace Corps.
While China’s grant aid to Africa is growing modestly, the headline grabbing
deals are largely low interest loans tied to infrastructure projects implemented by largeChinese companies. The recipients must accept the One China policy and Chinesecompanies implement the projects. Except for the concessionary nature of the loans,however, they are commercial transactions rather than aid projects. In recent years,China has provided Angola with about $14.5 billion, the Democratic Republic of theCongo (DRC) $6.5 billion, Niger $5 billion and Ethiopia $3 billion in low interest loans.The Angolan government pays back the loans as it ships oil to China. The DRC loan willfunction similarly with minerals. It is not clear how Ethiopia will pay off the loan as itexports to China only sesame seeds, hides and skins and a little coffee. It will take a lotof sesame seeds and goat skins to repay $3 billion. There is always the possibility, of course, that China will eventually write off some of the debt. It has previously cancelledsubstantial debt in the case of the poorest African countries. China also has a closeassistance relationship with countries like Sudan and Zimbabwe that are treated aspariahs by many western nations.
The hallmark of China’s relations with African countries is its excellent state
-to-state ties. China has an embassy in forty-nine of the fifty countries that recognizeBeijing. The only exception is Somalia where security conditions do not allow anembassy. Of the fifty, only the Comoro Islands does not have an embassy in Beijing.China relies heavily on high-level personal contact to consolidate its relations withAfrican leaders. President Hu Jintao has made six trips
 — 
two as vice president and fouras president
 — 
to Africa visiting multiple countries. Premier Wen Jiabao has been equallyvisible in Africa.
Beginning in 1991, China’s foreign minister has made his first overseas
visit every year to Africa, a practice that has been appreciated by African governments.All elements of Chinese leadership are frequent visitors to Africa. In turn, Beijing ofteninvites African leaders to China. During the period from 2002 to 2005, ChineseCommunist Party officials made sixty-four visits to Africa while African political partyofficials made sixty-nine visits to China.

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