Washington, D.C. — U.S. policymakers on both sides of the aisle have grown more anxious about China’s deepening ties with African nations in areas such as trade, military-security relations, and technology.
But a new report from the Center for American Progress finds that Washington’s limited focus on Africa through the lens of Chinese relations is misguided. The report urges U.S. officials to focus on developing a positive vision for the future of America’s role in Africa rather than relying solely on criticizing China’s engagement.
Despite Beijing’s long-term focus on becoming the partner of choice in Africa, the United States still enjoys comparable public support and a strong foundation for significant economic and security partnerships on the continent, the report finds.
“It is critical for the United States to rebalance its relations with African countries, especially as the continent undergoes dramatic demographic and economic changes,” said Jordan Link, China policy analyst for National Security and International Policy at CAP and author of the report.
The report comes ahead of the eighth convening of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation, likely to be held late this year. The forum will mark more than 20 years of high-level and institutionalized dialogue between Beijing and African leaders.
The report outlines five key realities of China’s role in Africa that U.S. policymakers should understand to get U.S. Africa-focused policy right:
- Africans view the United States and China favorably.
- Chinese economic activities across Africa are not solely extractive and create jobs.
- The claim that China is engaged in so-called debt trap diplomacy lacks evidence, but transparency is still a key concern.
- Chinese state financing is paving the way for Chinese companies to dominate telecommunications infrastructure development in many African nations.
- Chinese commercial activity has harmed the environment in many African countries.
Read the report: “5 Things U.S. Policymakers Must Understand About China-Africa Relations” by Jordan Link
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