Connect with us

Africa

Gains of China’s soft power in Africa over the West

Published

on

China portrays itself as a “Third World” country that pursues an “independent” foreign policy of peace. And by the Third World, it means that China is a developing country and not part of any power bloc such as that around the United States or the socialist bloc formerly associated with the Soviet Union. “Independence” here implies that China does not align itself with any other major power. The people of China assert that their country seeks peace so that it can concentrate on development. China also affirms that its decisions on foreign policy questions derive from the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence: mutual respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity, mutual non-aggression, non-interference in each other’s internal affairs, equality and mutual benefit, and peaceful coexistence. The Chinese leadership originally counted these principles in 1954 when China, with a communist government, was trying to reach out to the non-communist countries of Asia.

Diplomatically, the Five Principles still serve a useful purpose for China to date. They offer an alternative to the American conception of a new kind of world order the one in which international regimes and institutions (often reflecting U.S. interests and values) limit the rights of sovereign states to develop and sell weapons of mass destruction, repress opposition and violate human rights, pursue mercantilist economic policies that interfere with free trade, and damage the environment. As opposed to the Western design, China’s alternative design for the world stresses the equal, uninfringeable sovereignty of all states whether large or small, Western and non-Western, rich and poor, democratic and authoritarian, each to run its own system as it sees fit, whether its methods suit Western standards or not. This is a system which the Chinese also refer to as “multipolarity.”

The Five Principles draw attention to and explains why the west should avoid imposing its values on weaker nations. Thus the core idea behind the Five Principles as interpreted by China today is sovereignty – which one state has no right to interfere in the internal affairs of another state. China places emphasis on explaining that it never seeks hegemony. In the 1960s hegemony was a code word for Soviet expansionism. Today, Chinese officials use the term to refer to what they see as a one-sided American effort to enforce America’s will on other countries in such matters as trade practices, weapons proliferation, and human rights. By saying it will not seek hegemony, China tells its smaller neighbors that China’s economic development and growing military might, will not turn the country into a regional bully. By doing so, China endeavors to win the trust and support of other countries against the hegemonic eminence of the West.

China takes a firm position that most disputes around the world should be solved by peaceful negotiations. At the United Nations, China often abstains or refrains from voting on resolutions that mandate sanctions or interventions to reverse invasions, end civil wars, or stop terrorism. As a permanent Security Council member, China’s negative vote would constitute a veto, angering countries who favor intervention. By not voting or casting an abstention, China has allowed several interventions to go ahead without reversing its commitment to non-intervention. Again, in doing so, China succeeds in retaining a good image over the west especially if it (the west) was in favor of such interventions.

Of course, these articulated ethical principles do not entail that Chinese foreign policy is not realistic or strategic. In most cases, the principles that are pronounced actually fit the needs of Chinese strategy. In places relatively far from China (such as the Middle East, Africa, and Latin America) a few simple principles actually reflect Chinese interests most of the time. To oppose great-power intervention and defend sovereignty and equality among states is not only high-minded but it also represents China’s national interest in regions where China cannot intervene itself.

Socio-economically, China gains some advantage over the west in terms of the provision of aid to the developing countries. Conditionality and selectivity have created a dilemma for the Western approach to aid that cannot be solved owing to the central nature of development and good governance. Chinese aid, however, does not face this dilemma, as China does not impose such conditions on aid donations. Instead, the Chinese approach involves infrastructure building together with Chinese finance, technology, engineers and workers. Although this approach may seem rather old-fashioned in Western eyes and though it may create less direct employment in the recipient countries, the indirect positive externalities associated with Chinese aid projects can have a huge impact on kick-starting and energizing local economies.  It is widely accepted that infrastructure plays a crucial role in economic development and lack of physical infrastructure has been allied to the main reasons leading to slow economic growth in much of Africa. It then implies that by minimizing transportation costs (roads) and transaction costs (communication networks) and enabling domestic and international trade (through increased specialization) – China’s major investments in infrastructure in Africa are helping to generate economic growth and thereby creating more indirect employment than is possible following the West’s approach. Some argue that the recent economic development in Africa is, at least in part, a result of its increased trade with and infrastructure building by China.

It is further argued that the Chinese approach is capable of dealing with the hardcore circle of underdevelopment in Africa, which the West’s approach to aid is unable to address. Moreover, China’s approach is effective mainly due to its own comparative advantage in manufacturing and the compatibility of its resource donations (in particular, abundant labor) with African nations, which makes it impossible for the West to imitate. Africa was colonized and its markets were monopolized by the West, but now China has stepped in and competition for aid and investment in Africa is increasing. Donors are also competing with each other to provide aid to African countries, perhaps with the expectation that their aid will lead to increased trade and improved access to African markets especially in terms of natural resources. It may only be hoped, however, that by improving its efficiency and effectiveness, this increased competition in aid between China and the West will ultimately be for the benefit of Africa.

Socio-politically, the American political system does not seem to inspire as many people in Africa as it used to do. Africans have realized that Washington does not have much further to offer them in terms of socio-political capital, with very few socio-political lessons to emulate. According to Adams Bodom, Africans are unenthusiastic about talking against Washington because they are uncomfortable with their hard power, and live in fear of the deadly drones, and the callous imposition of sanctions through the United States Africa Command (Africom). On the other hand, he emphasized that China is having positive socio-political influences on Africa, African leaders, and ideologically literate Africans on the African streets. Many Africans now view the  Chinese way of handling their political economy as being far better than that of the American and western governments in general. China and other prudent Asian economies even bailed the world out of the banking disaster induced by some greedy western leaders and businessmen that caused untold hardships on Africans since 2008.

Socio-culturally, the United States soft power is waning in Africa whereas China’s soft power is increasing. Adams Bodom further purports that the use of English in Africa is barely anymore an example of American soft power as it used to be, but the increasing learning of Chinese is an instance of growing Chinese soft power. Young people in Africa seldom think well of America and Britain as a land of milk and honey when they open their mouths to speak English, but young people in Africa learning Chinese do think of China as a land of opportunity with which they hope to trade or engage in other ways after successfully learning the language at the fifty (50) or more Confucius Institutes springing up everywhere in Africa great symbols of Chinese soft power in Africa. Moreover, Asian soft power in the entertainment industry is rising faster in Africa than American in addition to the Chinese cultures and herbal medicines, particularly herbal tea in the middle-class African living room, which is fast becoming a popular Chinese cultural consumption item in Africa by the middle class.

In conclusion, the west used to have a strong soft power influence in Africa, but it is waning while China is beginning to register a rising soft power. As such, there are a number of aspects that the west can learn from the Chinese soft power strategies especially in areas of engagement and cooperation. There are also some characteristics of soft power from the west that has been underutilized in recent years. As such, it would be a great opportunity for the United States and others to engage China on areas of common interest, to strengthen African capacities to manage the intensifying competition that China and others bring to the continent, and to preemptively work to mitigate potential areas of disagreement. The United States can do more to engage in collaborative efforts with China to engage African governments, regional organizations, and civil society more systematically with the goal of mitigating potential tensions and conflicting interests. It is evident that both China and the United States have expressed willingness to engage in collaborative projects in Africa, but although there will almost certainly be long-term benefits to such collaboration, it will take a stronger upfront investment of political will and attention to launching these efforts. Health, agriculture, and peacekeeping capacity are areas of potential collaboration in Africa, and more global issues of climate change, food security, and clean and efficient energy use (areas that the Chinese leadership has emphasized in recent international forums) could be taken up in the African context. Likewise, in areas of tension and disagreement arms sales, transparency approaches to conflict resolution, environmental safeguards the United States should ensure systematic, senior-level engagement with Chinese and African leadership to find common ground and mitigate conflict.

David Ceasar Wani Suliman is a Doctoral Fellow (Ph.D.) in the school of Political Science and Public Administration at Shandong University China, Majoring in International Politics. He worked as a Research assistant at Jilin University China; He Achieved Master’s degree in International Relations from Jilin University China, and correspondingly graduated with honors from Cavendish University Uganda with bachelor degree in international relations and diplomatic studies.

Continue Reading
Comments

Africa

Resource Curse and Underdevelopment Give Way to Mass Unrest and Political Instability in Sudan

Published

on

Chairman of the Sovereign Council of Sudan Abdel Fattah al-Burhan

As reported October 25 by the reputable state media, Al Arabiya, Sudanese army and a cross-section of its population have returned, expressing dissatisfaction about the government. What is really at stake all these years is closely linked to the level of development and the living standard of the majority among the estimated 45 million population.

According to the El Sharq TV channel, two of Sudan’s three mobile operators have actually stopped providing services, so people are experiencing communication problems. According to several media sources, Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok together with other officials have been arrested, taken to an unknown location. The leaders of many political parties also called for preventing a coup in the country.

Mass arrests began sweeping the country following Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok’s meeting with head of Sudan’s Sovereign Council Abdel Fattah al-Burhan. The ministers of communication, information, finance and industries are among those in custody. Sudanese people took to the streets following calls by the main opposition movement, the Forces of Freedom and Change. The crisis between the Sudanese military and civilian forces has been going on for several weeks.

In about-turn development, Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, a general chairing the Sovereign Council of Sudan, announced in a televised address that general elections would be held in July 2023. The general declared a state of emergency in Sudan, dissolved both the country’s government and the Sovereign Council and suspended a number of articles of the Constitutional Declaration, which was signed by Sudan’s military and civilian forces in 2019 for a three-year transition period.

Besides the search for political pathways, Sudanese authorities need to address the deep-seated economic deficiencies. This also relates many African countries. Sudan, located in the northeast Africa, shares borders with Egypt, Libya, Chad, Ethiopia and South Sudan. It is blessed with huge oil reserves and marines resources. The Blue and White Niles rivers meet in the capital city Khartoum to form the Nile, which flows northwards through Egypt to the Mediterranean Sea.

While Sudan is encircled by these seven countries mentioned above, it also has to northeast a huge sea, which could be harnessed for the further development of the economy. Revenues could be used to engage in economic diversification projects, thus creating employment for the youth. It is third-largest country in Africa, and the third-largest in the Arab world by area before the secession of South Sudan in 2011.

Over the years, damming the water resources for economy has not taken off the ground. The main purpose of the dam will be the generation of electricity. Its dimensions make it the largest contemporary hydropower project for the region in Africa.

In terms of political developments in Sudan, Omar Hassan Ahmad al-Bashir came to power in June 1989. During several years of his administration, Sudan’s economy was largely shattered due to political tyranny, deep-seated corruption and poor policies.Al-Bashir held power for more than 30 years, refused to step down, resulting in the convergence of opposition groups to form a united coalition. The government retaliated by arresting more than 800 opposition figures and thousands of protesters, according to the Human Rights Watch.

Many people died because Al-Bashir ordered security forces to disperse the sit-in peaceful demonstrators using tear gas and live ammunition in what is known as the Khartoum massacre, resulting in Sudan’s suspension from the African Union. Eventually, Omar al-Bashir was gone. Sudan opened a new political chapter with Prime Minister, Abdalla Hamdok, a 62-year-old economist who worked previously for the UN Economic Commission for Africa.

Significantly, it is highly expected that his working experience at the UN Economic Commission for Africa must necessarily reflect on performance, and resultantly have a positive impact on the level of sustainable development that connects the daily lives of the population.

With the new administration, Sudan still faces formidable economic problems, and its growth still a little (snail step) rise from a very low level of per capita output. In practical terms, it is desperate for foreign support and one surest way was to get to a donors conference held in Berlin, Germany. The donors’ conference was to provide a lifeline to the ongoing transition, alongside Sudan’s own efforts. It is worth to say that increased international political and financial assistance remain paramount, it was a progressive step for Sudan.

The goal was to also raise enough funds to kick-start social protection programs by the World Bank and the Sudanese Government that could help Sudanese families in need. The partners supported the International Monetary Fund to open up Sudan’s road towards debt relief. Some 50 countries and international organizations pledged more than $1.8 billion, while the World Bank Group offered a grant of $400 million.

“This conference opened a new chapter in the cooperation between Sudan and the international community to rebuild the country,” German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said at that time during video conference co-organized by Germany with Sudan, the European Union and the United Nations.

Berlin promised to make investments in in areas such as water, food security and education. Germany has urged the Sudanese government to invest in human rights. Germany said that it would contribute €150 million ($168 million) in aid to the sub-Saharan nation of Sudan.

Undoubtedly, Abdalla Hamdok described that conference as “unprecedented” and said it laid a “solid foundation for us moving forward” at least in the subsequent years. Sudan’s new transitional government has sought to repair the country’s international standing, but it still faces daunting economic challenges, and its growth was still a rise from a very low level of per capita output. It continues to experience troubled relationship with many of its neighbors, and especially over oil reserves with South Sudan.

Currently, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) is working hand in hand with Khartoum government to implement sound macroeconomic policies. Agricultural production remains Sudan’s most-important sector, employing 80 percent of the workforce but most farms remain rain-fed and susceptible to drought. Instability, adverse weather and weak world-agricultural prices ensures that much of the population will remain at or below the poverty line for years.

Peter Fabricius, a Research Consultant from the South Africa’s Institute for Security Studies (ISS), noted quite recently in his article headlined – African Coups Are Making A Come Back – that in fewer than 13 months from 18 August 2020, four coups have occurred. Two happened in Mali (August 2020 and May 2021), one in Chad (May 2021) and one in Guinea last month.

He further pointed out “what might help prevent that would be better responses from African Union, regional bodies, and international partners to coups and other forms of unconstitutional change of government.”

Perhaps the root causes of coups run too deep within a country for any external actor to influence much. But to the extent that they can, the African Union and the Regional Economic Communities (RECs) should use their power preventively, focusing more on sanctioning ‘unconstitutional preservation of power’ and other undemocratic behavior to try to pre-empt coups, suggested Fabricius.

But late October 2021 political-military and cross-section of the civilian unrest are inter-connected to both politics and economy. Sudan is rich with natural resources, as it has oil reserves. Despite that, Sudan still faced formidable economic problems. Worse is production practices including agriculture are rudimentary. There has not been efforts, at least, to modernize agriculture to the growing population.

Despite there is a huge increase in unemployment, its is absolutely necessary, perhaps to  minimize social contradictions and economic disparities, so of course, these two – politics and economy questions are inseparable. These are some of the issues the government has to address seriously, in order to maintain sustainable peace and long-term stability in Sudan and set that as an admirably clear example in entire Africa.

Continue Reading

Africa

Muscle Alone Will Not Be Enough to Release Nigeria from a Perpetual Stage of Instability

Published

on

Nigeria is facing a multitude of security challenges, including kidnappings, banditry and successionist movements. The government solution has been consistently militaristic, as exemplified in Buhari’s June 2nd incendiary tweets threatening to treat Biafran separatists “in a language they understand.” However, the incessant insecurities facing the country are evidence that this response and rhetoric are not only ineffective in terms of conflict resolution but may in fact be aggravating tensions and stoking violence. Instead, to ensure the long-term effectiveness of security efforts, Nigeria requires a comprehensive policy that marries military tools with economic development and responsible governance.

Buhari’s problematic tweet was in reference to a wave of attacks by the armed wing of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) group in the country’s southeast. Sentiments of political and economic marginalization in this region, which were at the root of the Biafran Civil War from 1967 to 1970 and killed upward to six million Nigerians, have regularly flared into violence. The secessionist movement in the southeast is just one of the many insecurities facing the country, in which government has consistently employed a military response as its overarching solution, failing to establish a comprehensive strategy that employ a whole-of-government approach. The Nigerian military has mobilized against militant Islamist groups, including Boko Haram in the northeast, since 2009 and intensifying the campaign between 2015 and 2018. Violence, however, has persisted and even increased since 2018. And now, in response to rising kidnappings in the northwestern states of Zamfara, Kaduna, Niger, Sokoto, Kebbi and Katsina, the government bombarded suspected kidnappers’ hideouts. Still, these air strikes have not prevented additional kidnappings. While the Buhari government has opted for the traditional belligerent rhetoric and military response to kidnappings, state governments either aligned with the federal government strategy as is the case in Kaduna State, or paid ransoms to kidnappers as we have seen in Zamfara State.

For instance, to quell the rise in kidnappings, the Governor of Kaduna, Nasir El-Rufai, vowed not to further negotiate with kidnappers, nor pay any ransoms, arguing that such practices have made the enterprise highly profitable for criminals. Additionally, any affected family found adhering to the demands of the bandits will be subject to prosecution. The governor has insisted on deploying the military to tackle the insecurity. This approach, too, has been ineffective due to the lack of local governance structure, vast ungoverned spaces, including forests used as hideouts, and inadequate presence and capability of the police.  The payment of ransoms, on the other hand, is a paradox as it is an offence against Nigerians, motivating more individuals to join the kidnapping business and fueling a perpetual cycle of instability in the region.

The twin approaches of an aggressive military response and payment of millions of dollars to miscreants that fuels criminality in the northwest can only exacerbate Nigeria’s security problems. The country’s security challenges cannot be solved and risk worsening if the government does not address the underlying issues of “weakened, stretched and demoralized security services,” as former U.S. Ambassador to Nigeria John Campbell puts it, as well as poor governance, high poverty rates, and the exponentially dire lack of economic opportunities for the youth population. Criminality, however rampant, does not call for a heavy military response, as at its core it is a law-and-order failure. And as such, it ought to be the responsibility of the national police and law enforcement. The challenge, however, is the lack accountability of the police, as epitomized by the 2020 ENDSAR movement. An emphasis must be placed on community policing structures, wherein a collaborative partnership between the police units and relevant stakeholders within the communities they serve are formed, to build trust in the police and to develop solutions to insecurity. It is imperative for the relevant local stakeholders involved in the community policing structure to also serve as a watchdog organization to hold the police accountable and publicize any potential overreach of power. This will not only be an accountability mechanism but will help foster trust in law enforcement amongst the community, making citizens more likely to report suspicious activities in areas with inadequate police presence. Moreover, obstacles to youth participation in the country political process must be eliminated to pave the way for their integration in their respective communities’ policy making process. Coming out of the COVID-19 crisis, the Nigerian government must focus on a developmental project aimed at creating economic opportunities for its increasing youth population. The lack of which has been the catalyst of youth turning to criminality.

Nigeria currently has an opportunity to shift its strategy and address insecurity before it gets worse. While insecurity covers much of the country, groups wreaking havoc in the country do not appear to be connected to each other beyond their criminal character.  At best, malign groups in the northeast and northwest are learning from each other. Should these groups be allowed to continue undermining state authority and public security, they may eventually decide to coordinate operations, significantly aggravating challenges for the government’s response as well as consequences for civilians. Militant groups affiliated with Boko Haram and with Al-Qaeda sub-groups in the Sahel have already proved adept at exploiting local grievances for support.

While both the federal and state governments appear committed to addressing insecurity in the country, lacking in their rhetoric and actions is their determination to incorporate governance and economic development solutions, the absence of which serves as a driver of insecurity in the country.  An unwavering commitment by the country’s leadership in addressing sociopolitical and socioeconomic inequality is necessary to attain peace in the country, and the emphasis of said commitment must be on upholding accountability of the police, governance, and development.

Continue Reading

Africa

Shaping the Future Relations between Russia and Guinea-Bissau

Published

on

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and Guinea- Bissau Suzi Carla Barbosa have signed a memorandum on political consultations. This aims at strengthening political dialogue and promoting consistency in good cooperation at the international arena.

Russia expects trade and economic ties with Guinea-Bissau will continue developing; they must correspond to the high level of the political dialog between the countries, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said in his opening remarks at the meeting with his counterpart from Guinea-Bissau Suzi Carla Barbosa.

“Probably, the next natural step will be to build up our trade-economic, investment cooperation in order to bring it to the level of our sound, confident political dialogue,” the Russian Minister added.

Speculation aside, the face-to-face diplomatic talks focus on effective ways for developing tangible cooperation in most diverse areas in Guinea-Bissau. The meeting agreed to take a number of practical steps, including reciprocal visits by entrepreneurs both ways.

“We talked about more efficient ways of developing our trade and economic cooperation. We agreed to undertake a range of specific steps, including the trips of businessmen from Guinea-Bissau to Russia and then from Russia to Guinea-Bissau,” Lavrov said.

Last year, Prime Minister of Guinea-Bissau Nuno Gomes Nabiam met with representatives of the Russian business community. The areas of interest mentioned in this respect included exploration of natural resources, construction of infrastructure facilities, as well as development of agriculture and fisheries.

Guineans are keen on deepening bilateral cooperation in fishing. The five Russian fishing trawlers have recently resumed their operations in the exclusive economic zone of Guinea-Bissau.

As explained the media conference, the topics discussed for cooperation included such spheres as natural resources tapping, infrastructure development, agriculture and fisheries

In terms of education, over 5,000 people have already entered civilian professions, and more than 3,000 people have acquired military specialties, which is important for Guinea-Bissau. In addition, military and technical intergovernmental cooperation agreement is about to enter in force. According to reports, Russia would continue to pursue military cooperation with the country.

Both ministers reviewed the situation in Mali, the Republic of Guinea and some other African areas, with an emphasis on West Africa and the Sahara-Sahel region.

Lavrov and Carla Barbosa discussed preparations for the second Russia-Africa summit planned for 2022. With high hopes that the collective attendance will include President of Guinea-Bissau Umaro Sissoco Embalo.

Guinea-Bissau, like many African states, has had political problems. In April 2020, the regional group of fifteen West African countries often referred to as ECOWAS, after months of election dispute finally recognized the victory of Umaro Sissoco Embaló of Guinea-Bissau.

Perspectives for future development are immense in the country. The marine resources and other waterbodies are integral part to the livelihood. Steps to increase agricultural production are necessary. The economy largely depends on agriculture: fish, cashew nuts and peanuts are its major exports. Its population estimated at 1.9 million, and more than two-thirds lives below the poverty line.

Sharing borders with Guinea (to the southeast), Gambia and Senegal (to the north), Guinea-Bissau attained its independence in September 1973. Guinea-Bissau follows a nonaligned foreign policy and seeks friendly and cooperative relations with a wide variety of states and organizations. Besides, Eсonomic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), Guinea-Bissau is a member of the African Union (AU) and the United Nations.

Continue Reading

Publications

Latest

people art people art
Reports3 hours ago

Global Wealth Has Grown, But at the Expense of Future Prosperity

Global wealth has grown overall—but at the expense of future prosperity and by exacerbating inequalities, according to the World Bank’s...

Africa Today8 hours ago

Climate Change Could Further Impact Africa’s Recovery

The World Bank’s new Groundswell Africa reports, released today ahead of the 26th session of the Conference of the Parties...

African Renaissance11 hours ago

The Cemetery Of The Mind

This is me. The voices are inside my head. Calling me. Speaking in ancient tongues. They talk and talk and...

USA China Trade War USA China Trade War
Economy15 hours ago

The US-China Trade War

Trade deficit with China became a major issue in 2016 American election. Touching the sensibilities of American working class, Donald...

Defense17 hours ago

ASEAN has the ability to counteract AUKUS’ Cold War strategies

Authors: Raihan Ronodipuro & Hafizha Dwi Ulfa* The United States’ new tripartite defense alliance with the United Kingdom and Australia,...

Intelligence19 hours ago

Chaos Maker: Bernard-Henry Levy video in Panjshir and the chaos making in the Middle East

First: The Israeli-French intelligence maneuver deliberately displaying the video of the French-Israeli Jewish chaos maker “Bernard-Henry Levy” globally to form...

Southeast Asia21 hours ago

The 38th ASEAN Summit Meeting: Agenda and Outcomes

The 38th ASEAN summit meeting is held from October 26-28th and the list of areas to concentrate for the ASEAN would be far too many which includes...

Trending