Friday, August 7, 2020

China Needs Africa as Much as Africa Needs China

 The Royal United Services Institute published on 3 August 2020 a commentary titled "China in Africa's Looking Glass: Perceptions and Realities" by Hangwei Li, University of London, and Jacqueline Muna Musiitwa, Hoja Law Group.

The authors argue that China needs Africa as much as Africa needs China, especially as China tries to increase its soft power globally.  The bargaining power of African leaders is increasing as they seek to play a greater role in multilateral affairs without becoming a pawn in China-US disagreements.  

China's Maritime Silk Road and the Maghreb

The Began-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies published on 4 August 2020 a commentary titled "The New Silk Road and the Maghreb Region" by Mordechai Chaziza, Ashkelon Academic College in Israel. 

Since the 2013 launch of China's Belt and Road Initiative, Beijing has shown great interest in the Maghreb region as an entry point to European and African markets.  While China is gaining a foothold in the Maghreb, it cannot match US or European dominance in the region.  


China and Russia in Africa

The Daily Maverick published on 5 August 2020 an opinion piece titled "China and Russia in Africa: Development Allies or Geopolitical Opportunists?" by Nina Callaghan, Dzvinka Kachur, and Mark Swilling. 

The authors write that China's and Russia's interests in Africa are strategic to their national objectives, have been carefully planned, and have become more sophisticated and deliberate over the past two decades.  Russia's trade and investment in Africa are far below that of China's and focused heavily in the energy sector.  The authors conclude that Africa must come to the realization that it is in the continent's interests to negotiate fairer agreements that do not leave them saddled with more debt or the potential loss of national assets.  


Thursday, August 6, 2020

China-Africa Bibliography

This is a 305-page bibliography of China-Africa relations updated as of 6 August 2020.  

Somalia-Somaliland Talks

The International Crisis Group (ICG) published on 6 August 2020 a brief titled "Somalia-Somaliland: A Halting Embrace of Dialogue." 

The ICG urges that Somalia and Somaliland continue the dialogue initiated in June by the United States and the European Union.  

China Challenges France in Morocco

The East Asia Forum published on 1 August 2020 an article titled "China's Challenge in Morocco's Africa-to-Europe Commercial Corridor" by Michael Tanchum, University of Navarra in Spain.

Morocco has surpassed Spain and is poised to become the dominant maritime hub in the western Mediterranean.  China's role in Morocco's infrastructure development has been pivotal since Moroccan King Mohammed VI's 2016 visit to China when the two countries signed a strategic partnership agreement and more than 15 public-private partnership agreements.  Chinese investments and contracts in Morocco between 2014 and 2019 totaled $1.26 billion.  

China's Digital Silk Road Encourages Authoritarian Model

A Democratic staff report prepared for the US Senate Committee on Foreign Relations on 21 July 2020 titled "The New Big Brother: China and Digital Authoritarianism" details China's growing influence on the digital sphere as China promotes an alternative model for the digital domain based on state control.

China's Belt and Road Initiative contains an effort to create a Digital Silk Road that will allow it to shape the future of the global Internet and reinforce the Communist Party of China's leadership at home for decades to come.  Other nations such as Zimbabwe have or are looking to acquire Chinese information and communication technologies (ICT) and integrate them into their national infrastructures, opening up potential opportunities for abuse.  

China's efforts to advance and proliferate its ICT hardware and systems, both in China and overseas, represent not only a desire to continually expand its economy, but also to push to establish, expand, internationalize, and institutionalize a model for digital governance that this reports describes as "digital authoritarianism."

Wednesday, August 5, 2020

Ethiopia: Aftermath of an Assassination

Ethiopia Insight posted on 5 August 2020 an account titled "Aftershocks of an Assassination" by Yared Tsegaye, Addis Ababa-based reporter.

The article describes the aftermath of the 30 June killing of popular Ethiopian musician, Hachalu Hundessa Bonsa, which resulted in violence throughout much of Addis Ababa and a number of other cities.  This was followed by a wave of arrests.

China Plays Cautious in Libya

China Mediterranean published on 4 August 2020 an analysis titled "The Geopolitics of China's Libya Foreign Policy" by Giorgio Cafiero, CEO of Gulf State Analytics, a Washington-based geopolitical risk consultancy.

China is pragmatically avoiding excessive entanglement in Libya's complex conflict.  China is content to permit other powers to fight for influence in Libya.  China is patiently looking years and decades in the future when conflict comes to an end in Libya and then the countries can establish close relations.  In 2010, 3 percent of China's imported oil came from Libya.  In 2019, only 1.5 percent came from Libya.  

US Needs to Support Sudan's Democratic Revolution

War on the Rocks posted on 5 August 2020 a commentary titled "U.S. Inaction Is Handicapping Sudan's Revolution" by Zach Vertin, Brookings Institution, and Jon Temin, Freedom House.

Sudan's democratic revolution has stalled.  Washington is doing little to help Sudan's new leaders seize the moment.  Its inaction is threatening to undermine their once-in-a-generation opportunity.  

Tuesday, August 4, 2020

Syllabus for Graduate Course on China-Africa

This is a syllabus for a graduate level, on-line course titled "Rising China and Africa" at George Washington University during the fall 2020 semester.

Investment in Africa: China vs. Traditional Partners

China in Africa The Real Story posted on 31 July 2020 an analysis titled "Investment in Africa:  China vs Traditional Partners" Part I and Part II by Thierry Pairault, research director at France's Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique. 

The author concludes that Africa's traditional investment partners have not abandoned the continent, but that Africa has gained a new and powerful partner--China.   

Monday, August 3, 2020

Ethiopia: The Oromo Liberation Army

Ethiopia Insight posted on 3 August 2020 a commentary titled "Guji Oromo Need Freedom from Liberators" by Nagessa Dube, lawyer in Minneapolis who recently visited Ethiopia. 

The author reported that the Oromo Liberation Army, a splinter group of the Oromo Liberation Front, which operates legally in Ethiopia, has killed more than 700 civilians since April 2018.  He concluded that some of the Ethiopian public still believes armed insurrection is the right way to struggle against oppression. 

US Export Import Bank Finally Offering Competition to China in Africa

The South China Morning Post published on 2 August 2020 an article titled "US 'Follows China's Path' in Africa by Funding Mozambique Liquefied Natural Gas Project" by Jevans Nyabiage.

The Export-Import Bank of the US has approved a $4.7 billion loan, the largest direct loan in the bank's history in Sub-Saharan Africa, to support exports of US goods and services to construct an LNG facility in Mozambique.  This is one of the first indications of meaningful competition with China in Africa by the US bank. 

China-US Competition in Africa over COVID-19 Response

Devex, a global development media platform, posted on 31 July 2020 a story titled "Congressional Hearing Tackles US COVID-19 Response in Africa" by Adva Saldinger. 

The article reports on testimony by US Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs, Tibor Nagy, before the House Foreign Affairs subcommittee hearing on the COVID-19 pandemic response in Africa.  His testimony is essentially an invidious comparison between American and Chinese assistance to Africa for combating COVID-19.

Saturday, August 1, 2020

Djibouti's China Debt

The China-Africa Project posted on 31 July 2020 an analysis titled "Djibouti's Chinese Debt" by Thierry Pairault, emeritus research director at France's National Centre of Scientific Research.

Djibouti financed its $550 million portion of the Addis Ababa-Djibouti railway through its own funds ($58 million) and a commercial loan of $492 million from China's Export-Import Bank.  The project is complete but its operation has been disappointing because of the uncertain supply of electricity to run the trains and a lack of products for export.  As the debt burden grows, negotiations are underway to renegotiate the terms of the loan. 

Friday, July 31, 2020

China-Africa Economic Relationship in the COVID-19 Era

African Business published on 25 July 2020 an article titled "China-Africa Relations Enter New Era as Easy Money Dries Up" by David Thomas.

The author suggests that China will put less money into Africa in the COVID-19 era.  But this may also allow China and Africa to put their relationship on a more sustainable footing by reordering debt, shifting towards mutually beneficial trade and investment, and rethinking Africa's debt model.

Sudan: Is Darfur Back to Its Bad Old Ways?

The New York Times published on 30 July 2020 an article titled "The Dictator Who Waged War on Darfur Is Gone, but the Killing Goes On" by Declan Walsh.

The author reports that heavily armed gangs in Darfur continue to massacre, plunder and rape in scorch-earth tactics that recall the worst days of former President Omar al-Bashir, who is now in prison. 

Thursday, July 30, 2020

Sudan and the US State Sponsors of Terrorism List

The Foreign Policy Research Institute published on 23 July 2020 a commentary titled "Can Sudan Escape Its History as a Transit Hub for Violent Extremist Organizations?" by Peter Chalk, Valens Global, Daveed Gartenstein-Ross, Valens Global, and Colin P. Clarke, Foreign Policy Research Institute. 

The State Department placed Sudan on the list of state sponsors of terrorism in 1993 and it has not been removed in spite of the fact annual State Department reports on terrorism have stated that Sudan has cooperated with the U.S. government over the last fifteen years to reign in terrorism.  The most recent State Department Sudan country report on terrorism notes that "despite the absence of high-profile terrorist attacks, ISIS facilitation networks appear to be active within Sudan." The authors correctly note there are other legal obstacles that are making it difficult to remove Sudan from the list of state sponsors of terrorism.

But there is no indication that the government of Sudan is aiding and abetting possible ISIS facilitation networks in Sudan and these networks exist in at least a dozen countries that are NOT on the US list of state sponsors of terrorism. 

China's Infrastructure-heavy Model for African Growth is Failing

The Diplomat Risk Intelligence published on 30 July 2020 an analysis titled "China's Infrastructure-Heavy Model for African Growth Is Failing" by Thierry Pairault, emeritus research director at France's National Centre of Scientific Research. 

 Drawing primarily on the example of the Chinese-financed and built Addis Ababa-Djibouti railway, the author argued that not all expensive Chinese infrastructure projects in Africa are contributing effectively to GDP growth.  What worked in China, does not necessarily work in Africa.  In addition, the Chinese-financed projects are constructed by Chinese companies and are largely sourced to Chinese goods and services.  So long as China is repaid, it is a win-win arrangement for China.  But if the project does not live up to expectations, it could be a loss for Africa. 

China Gets Mixed Public Response in North Africa

Arab Barometer posted on 24 July 2020 a summary of public opinion polling titled "Is This China's Moment in MENA?" by Michael Robbins.

The public opinion polling included six countries in North Africa: Egypt, Libya, Tunisia, Algeria, Morocco, and Sudan.  A majority of respondents in Tunisia, Libya, and Sudan favored stronger economic relations with China while only a minority responded positively in Morocco, Algeria, and Egypt. 

A majority of respondents in three countries--Sudan, Morocco, and Egypt--favored more foreign assistance from China.  Surprisingly, only half of the respondents in Tunisia wanted more foreign assistance and less than half replied affirmatively in Libya and Algeria. 

Nigeria Questions Sovereignty Clause in Chinese Loan

This Day Live published on 29 July 2020 an article titled "Loan Agreements: House Uncovers Clauses Conceding Nigeria's Sovereignty to China" by Udora Orizu.

Nigeria's House of Representatives has raised the alarm over a clause in the $400 million commercial loan agreement signed by Nigeria and the Export-Import Bank of China that appears to concede Nigerian sovereignty to China. 

Wednesday, July 29, 2020

Sino-Maghreb Relations

The Hollings Center posted in June 2020 a one and one-half hour podcast titled "Sino-Maghreb Relations: Past, Present, and Future."

Adel Abdel Ghafar, Brookings Doha Center, moderated the discussion, which included the following participants:
--Hassan Aourid, Mohamed V University in Morocco.
--Sarah Feuer, The Washington Institute.
--Tang Xiaoyang, Carnegie-Tsinghua Center for Global Policy in China.
--Yahia Zoubir, Brookings Doha Center. 

Africa's Debt with China

Geopolitical Monitor published on 24 July 2020 a commentary titled "New 'Debt Trap' Concerns over China Lending to Africa" by Adrian Stones and Yigal Chazan, both with the London-based business intelligence consultancy Alaco.

Chinese financing is helping to build vital infrastructure in Africa but the debt it is incurring is looking increasingly unsustainable.  China is Africa's single largest creditor.  China's state-owned Global Times recently suggested one possible solution is the use of debt-for-equity swaps, an especially controversial tactic.

The 16 April 2020 Global Times article, which was written by the deputy director at the Ministry of Commerce's Chinese Academy of International Trade and Economic Cooperation, contains important insights on China's approach to the African debt dilemma. 

China Promotes Party-Military Connection in Africa

The Africa Center for Strategic Studies at the US National Defense University published on 28 July 2020 an analysis titled "China Promotes Its Party-Army Model in Africa" by Paul Nantulya.

The author emphasizes that in its training program for African military personnel China promotes its principle of absolute party control over the military as an essential part of its governance model.  China offers training opportunities to about 5,000 African military professionals annually.