Tuesday, February 14, 2012

China and Africa: Myth and Facts

The Carnegie Endowment for International Peace published a brief and balanced account of China-Africa interaction in its 9 February 2012 edition of International Economics Bulletin. Written by Shimelse Ali and Nida Jafrani, who are at Carnegie's International Economics Program, the article is titled China's Growing Role in Africa: Myths and Facts.

The article ends with a conclusion that I fully support: Given its strong economic growth, resource needs, and financial muscle, China is in Africa to stay. The United States should recognize this and engage China in areas of potential collaboration and complementarity, such as education and agriculture projects. All countries can benefit from increased production capacity and improved infrastructure in Africa.

I would add, however, that China should also engage the United States in efforts to collaborate in Africa to the mutual advantage of Africa. China often takes its lead from African leaders, some of whom are reluctant to encourage U.S.-China cooperation in Africa. This will require that those African leaders who are more focused on encouraging competition between China and the United States understand there are areas where the United States and China can cooperate to their benefit.

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