China’s Africa Strategy – Joshua Eisenman and Joshua Kurlantzick

From Current History, via American Foreign Policy Council (link):

The streets of Maputo, the capital of the former Portuguese colony of Mozambique, look little different from those of other sub-Saharan African cities. Open sewers overflow with rotting fruit, beggars harass pedestrians for 1,000 meticals (the equivalent of less than 10 cents), and young mothers walk past in dirty rags, carrying emaciated children. Yet Maputo is also hopeful. After decades of brutal civil war, Mozambique has enjoyed peace since the early 1990s and has built a nascent, if fragile, democracy. Mozambican entrepreneurs have reconstructed the shattered economy of their capital, whose business district has even sprouted a small skyline.

Amid the pink and green Mediterranean-style buildings on Maputo’s oceanfront, signs of its Portuguese colonial heritage, one structure stands out-an enormous, blocky building with an Asian pagoda roof that hardly resembles the surrounding architecture. It is the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and it has been built, as part of a larger initiative, with Chinese aid. Indeed, in recent years China has become a major provider of aid to Mozambique, launching an investment- and trade-promotion center in Maputo, offering debt reduction, and promising significant other economic assistance.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, Mozambique now regards China as one of its most important allies outside of Africa. On one visit to Beijing, Mozambique’s prime minister announced that his country supports China’s “independent foreign policy”-a term Beijing uses to denote independence from American power-and called for China to play a larger role on the African continent.

Mozambique is hardly unique. Over the past decade, while the United States has too often ignored sub-Saharan Africa policy other than counterterrorism cooperation and aid initiatives, Beijing has quietly established relationships with the continent’s political and business elites. And Beijing has enjoyed considerable success in Africa, building close ties with countries from Sudan to South Africa, becoming a vital aid donor in many African nations, signing trade initiatives with more than 40 African states, and developing military relationships with many of the continent’s powers.

May 13, 2006 6:53 PM
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