China looms over Clinton Africa tour

2012-08-05 22:29

Cape Town - Although she did not mention China by name, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has prompted angry reactions from Beijing during her seven-nation tour of Africa.

During a speech in Senegal, at the start of the 11-day trip, Clinton advocated partnerships with the United States, which "will stand up for democracy and universal human rights, even when it might be easier or more profitable to look the other way".

"Not every partner makes that choice, but we do and we will," she added.

Her remarks drew a sharp response from Beijing. China's official new agency Xinhua said Clinton was taking "cheap shots" and had a hidden agenda.

"Whether Clinton was ignorant of the facts on the ground or chose to disregard them, her implication that China has been extracting Africa's wealth for itself is utterly wide of the truth," Xinhua wrote.

"Her remarks betrayed an attempt to drive a wedge between China and Africa for the US' selfish gain," Xinhua added, stressing that Beijing and Washington were bound by "friendship and equality".

China was providing sustainable aid to Africa through infrastructure development, the agency wrote.

Beijing recently announced $20bn in credit for Africa, replacing the US as the continent's most important economic partner. Trade volume between Africa and China shot up to $166bn in 2011.

"China is a very aggressive and pernicious economic competitor with no morals," US Assistant Secretary for African Affairs Johnnie Carson wrote as early as 2010, in a memo published by WikiLeaks.

Many headaches

Human rights organisations have also accused Beijing of showing few scruples in its choice of trading partners, which include internationally condemned states such as Zimbabwe and Sudan.

All this is seen as the subtext of Clinton's visit to China, in which commentators view an unspoken plan to prevent Chinese expansion in Africa, alongside her economic and security-driven agenda.

In any case, the African continent is presenting the US with numerous headaches. Clinton's agenda addresses the growing influence of Islamic extremists in Nigeria and Mali, trouble hotspots Somalia and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, as well as inner-political tensions in countries such as Kenya and Ivory Coast.

Her journey aims to show that the US takes the continent very seriously. Many are disappointed that the first black US president, whose father is Kenyan, has only visited one sub-Saharan African country during his time in office - Ghana.

Behind the scenes however, the US has increased its engagement in Africa. Besides US Air Force bases in Burkina Faso, Uganda, Ethiopia, Djibouti, Kenya and on the Seychelles, the US has also expanded its network of military experts and agents.

US military personnel are helping Uganda track town rebels of the Lord's Resistance Army, while US drones and reconnaissance technology are being used against extremists in Somalia and other conflict zones.

"The trip by Clinton generally represents increased recognition by the Obama administration that Africa is now a global player," Jakkie Cilliers, director of the Institute for Security Studies, told the Mail & Guardian.

John Atta Mills

Her visit has spearheaded positive developments in East Africa, visiting South Sudan hours before it reached an agreement on oil deliveries with neighbouring Sudan; promoting stability in Somalia; and pushing for peaceful elections in Kenya.

These messages are to be reinforced during the remainder of her trip.

In Malawi, Clinton will meet the new president, Joyce Banda, who is leading the country from its turbulent recent history back to democratic stability.

In South Africa, she will meet former president Nelson Mandela, the very embodiment of African self-determination and reconciliation.

Even in Ghana, on the final leg of her tour, Clinton can draw on the recent death of president John Atta Mills, whose funeral she will attend. In the showcase country for democracy, Mills' sudden departure did not upset political stability.

  • omo.naija.750 - 2012-08-06 00:51

    "will stand up for democracy and universal human rights, even when it might be easier or more profitable to look the other way". ********************************************************************* Yeah right ,just like you are doing in Saudi Arabia ,Oman and Bahrain? What a stupid hypocrite. Neither the west or east care about the people of Africa,they just care about what they can take out of Africa. The both of you have been using your puppets (African Leaders) to screw with ordinary Africans for decades.You use your foreign aid to hogwash us into believing that you mean us well.Well played USA ,well played. Your country and it's allies along with the Chinese continue to exploit the "stupidity" of my people but don't worry we shall rise.A proverb in my native language says : "Everyday for the thief but one day for the owner". Even though Africa is still a messed up continent ,our people will get it right someday because the only constant thing is change and change we shall.It may not be in my lifetime but Africans and Africa will rise.

      tp.smith.739 - 2012-08-06 02:51

      If you want to discuss those taking, don't forget the leaders of various African countries. They care about lining their own pockets, while poverty, violence, and illness continue. I do hope for honest leadership throughout Africa, but when that will come? I do agree that the USA care superficially, while China cares only for what they can take. By the way, the USA has also been sold down the river by its politicians and corporate leaders.

      AnthonyfromAfrica - 2012-08-06 05:48

      Omonaija,tp.Smith.739 To compare the role the USA, plays in Africa, to that of China, is plain dishonest. What Africa needs is investments and job creation, plus aid where it is immediate necersarily. The USA, (and Europe) have invested BILLIONS into Africa, and have created directly and indirectly HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS of jobs. China's investments are ONLY good for China, like a recent 'investment' in Ghana, where China's condition was, NOT to pay taxes for......25 years!!!! China has created NO jobs in Africa, but has destroyed TENS OF THOUSANDS. The reality is that MILLIONS of Africans are starving, that MILLIONS have hiv-aids, and that MILLIONS have malaria. To say the USA 'care superficially' is plain stupid and ignorant. Tell this to the MILLIONS of Africans whose lives get saved EVERY YEAR by the incredible generous aid of the USA, which runs into BILLIONS!! China still has to put a first plate of food on the table for a starving child, and has still to provide the first medicine for the sick. For Africa to become less dependent onaid, it needs good leaders. Maybe a start would be, for African leaders to obey the AU,'S African Charter. Although it was written by themselves, very few follow its rules. Supporting dictators is most certainly not mentioned in this charter, but quite the opposite. Also recent changes in the leadership in North Africa should be an encouragement to other leaders on this continent.

      jack.bleck - 2012-08-06 07:08

      @anthony: Come now - don't be ignorant. Both the USA & Europe owe billions of dollars in debt to China. The USA has little right to speak of human rights when they have trampled these same rights in countries like Iraq, Vietnam - even South Africa. Do you know that the US covertly supported the apartheid regime? The only investments the US have made into Africa, are for their own benefit - like buying media companies so that they can brainwash people like you.

      sterling.ferguson.5 - 2012-08-06 07:24

      Many African leaders don't care about the people in Africa. In SA the AIDS treatment program is being paid for by the US government that has kept many people alive today. However, Zuma wants to build a Zumaville with taxpayers money but, he is asking the US government not to cut off funding for this program.

      fidel.mgoqi - 2012-08-06 07:59

      Trade between Africa and China hit a record $166bn (£106bn) last year. What Africa needs is trade and not aid. After decades of failure with the West's model, its a bit rich for Clinton to complain because another civilization tries something more successful. If the Chinese model for engagement in Africa ends up achieving nothing, but does not result in Africans being reduced to debt slaves, it will still have succeeded a hundred times more than the Western model.

      AnthonyfromAfrica - 2012-08-06 08:11

      @Jackblack, Sorry, but just is just silly talk. What has the fact that the USA and Europe 'owe' billions to China, have to do with this topic ??? When it comes to Vietnam and Iraq, we might even have some common ground, BUT , that does not take away the fact, that the USA has been good to and for Africa. Do their investments benefit the USA ? Off course they do, but my point is that they ALSO benefit Africa, in contrast to (most) Chinese investments. I do know, that the USA had sanctions against the apartheid regime. Don't know of any media company the USA has bought in Africa. But in today's information age, you can get a balanced view, as much as one wants. You want to read the English version of China's mornig newspaper edition , you can

      CORNHOLIO - 2012-08-06 11:16

      viva east & west kiss my arse

  • Nnamdi - 2012-08-06 03:56

    I agree with both commentators.Let us know what thwy want this time around.Obama as first black american president hardly mentions Africa in his speeches.Even as a kenyan if he agrees he is,he has not visited that country.Irish American prsidents in their first term in offfice do visit Irland.When have their good intentions on Africa become good enough after manufacturing HIV to curb our populations and now they are giving AIDS donations.God will punish the west one day as he is alresdy doing by turning them into homosexuals.WHen has china done good thing with good intention?We shall rise one day if our leaders will help.

      michael.mcn.9 - 2012-08-06 19:22

      Obama visited Kenya in 2006. The man is busy, can he not take a raincheck?

  • fidel.mgoqi - 2012-08-06 07:55

    China will give Africa what Africa wants and China will get what it wants too. But the US will not give Africa what it wants, it will try to impose its lifestyle on Africans, gather information that it can use to destroy any leader when it wants to, it will impose economic sanctions at the slightest provocation and will use intimidation, blackmail and all forms of propaganda to destroy any African nation that opposes its dictates. Of course it would be naive to see China in Africa as purely altruistic. But what they are doing is exporting their own experience of rapid development in exchange for natural resources. Africa now has a choice of who it does business with. That has to be a good thing. The Washington Consensus policies have failed in Africa.

      AnthonyfromAfrica - 2012-08-06 09:32

      Fidel, Trade between Africa and China hit a record $166bn (£106bn) last year. True !! But in SA, as in most, non oil producing countries, this amount of $, is made up of, Chinese goods coming in, and in many cases destroying African manufacturing . Show us, ONE JOB, China has created in SA, just one !!! I can show you TENS OF THOUSANDS that have been destroyed by the Chinese. But you have shown over and over . As long as you can spew your silly childish outdated anti Wester propaganda, you are smiling. It is soo easy to sit behind your deskrtop, in your comfortable and safe home, belly full, fridge full, with all comforts, and than don't care about the needy, and just press the 'post comment' and get a smile on your face. You are an enmey of Africa.

      fidel.mgoqi - 2012-08-06 09:52

      Where is this African manufacturing you keep harping on about. It is only in the SADC countries that there's been anything representing of manufacturing industry. It is Chinese state supported companies that have opened up industry in the rest of the continent where western businesses deemed these places too risky to invest in. South Africa has renegotiated its trade balance with China to cap the amount of textiles being imported to the country to safeguard local jobs, and the Chinese agreed. The Nien Hsing Textile Company, a giant Taiwanese corporation, employs 10,000 people in Lesotho, making this its biggest operation in the world.

      ghengis.khan.585 - 2012-08-06 13:32

      AnthonyfromAfrica (whatever) don't you get tired of your own babble day in and day out? Always making statements with nothing to back them up. I can tell you I have traveled across the continent (Sierra Leone, Ghana, Swaziland, SA, Mozambique, TZ, Malawi, Kenya, Uganda, Angola) and have spent much time in these countries. The Chinese are there, and some of the things they do I do not agree with (Logging as an example) but what you are saying 'they import chinese goods' is not true. Yes, there is that. But predominantly they are in mining, processing, manufacturing, construction - and they do employ locals and create jobs. Maybe they dont treat them too well but jobs no less. I am not saying the Chinese should be here. Nor the Americans, Africa should develop Africa. But that is in an ideal world, we live in a twisted one. Both America and China want Africa's resources. China are just more business like about it where the US comes with the NGO 'lets save the children and bring democracy' approach.

      michael.mcn.9 - 2012-08-06 19:43

      GenghisKhan I agree substantially with what you say here. Africa is like a modern woman being courted by two suitors, East and West. She cannot let them tell her what she must do. Neither can she let herself be sold for the highest fee she can get, then tossed away when they are done with her. What she must do is use her innate wisdom to see which of the suitors will stay with her long after the prizes they seek from her have faded or been consumed. She wants the one who will treat her well and help her raise her children so that she can enjoy them in her old age. The flashy suitor or the bossy suitor are unacceptable. The one who shoves a fistful of money in her hand and then demands his due is also flawed and should be spurned. The one to pick is the one who will treat her as his equal, who will appreciate her virtues and help her improve her talents, while sharing her burdens and lessening her problems. It is difficult to make this choice, perhaps, but millions of women do it every day. Seek their guidance, Africa. They have reason not to steer you wrong.

  • keith.murphy.9638 - 2012-08-06 19:04

    This f*cken witch should get out of south africa

  • pages:
  • 1