China and the United States have surprisingly similar interests in Africa. Both rely increasingly on the continent for oil while China also imports large quantities of minerals. Both seek political support from Africa’s 54 countries, which constitute more than a quarter of the membership of the United Nations. Both see Africa as an increasingly attractive export market, although today the African countries collectively account for a tiny percentage of each country’s global trade.

 [h4]China, Africa and Implications for the United States[/h4]

China and the United States have surprisingly similar interests in Africa. Both rely increasingly on the continent for oil while China also imports large quantities of minerals. Both seek political support from Africa’s 54 countries, which constitute more than a quarter of the membership of the United Nations. Both see Africa as an increasingly attractive export market, although today the African countries collectively account for a tiny percentage of each country’s global trade.

China also wants to expand the “one China” principle throughout Africa; four African countries recognize Taiwan. This is not an American interest. For its part, the United States wants to minimize the impact in Africa of terrorism, narcotics trafficking, international crime, piracy and money laundering so they do not harm US interests in Africa or the homeland. While these are increasingly becoming Chinese interests, they have not yet reached the level of US interest. The United States also seeks to continue naval access to African ports and maintain the ability to overfly and land military aircraft. This is not yet an important interest for China.

There is considerable potential for China-United States commercial competition in Africa, a feature of the relationship that has been won overwhelmingly by China in recent years largely because it has worked harder and its state-owned companies have significant advantages over American private sector companies. Chinese companies often move into African countries as part of a package deal supported by the government. As a result, Chinese companies have cornered the market on large infrastructure projects, made significant inroads in the telecommunications sector, and are now challenging in banking.

Chinese commercial competition is not unique to Africa. American success on the continent will require a greater effort by the private sector and more support by the US government, including more financing from the Export-Import Bank. Interestingly, oil is not an area where China has seriously challenged the United States. American and Western oil majors entered Africa long before China arrived. They have also maintained technological superiority over the Chinese companies. In addition, oil is fungible commodity; whoever has cash can buy it.

From the US government perspective, the most troubling aspect of China’s presence in Africa is its unwillingness to encourage better governance and human rights practices in a continent where too many countries require significant improvement in these areas. This is a hallmark of US policy in Africa, although there are some inconsistencies in the way Washington has approached the issue across the continent. China has far more influence than the United States in countries such as Sudan and Zimbabwe but has chosen because of its non-interference policy in a country’s internal affairs to eschew encouragement of more democratic practices.

There are also important areas of convergence in US and China policy in Africa. Both countries seek political stability and an end to terrorism. Tactically, there are differences in the approach to political stability. China emphasizes economic development and a decrease in poverty levels.

While the United States strongly supports these objectives, it also presses for improved governance and human rights practices. While China is anxious to combat terrorism, it seems to be skeptical about some US practices such as heavy reliance on a military response, including occasional missile and drone attacks in the case of al-Shabaab in Somalia.

On the other hand, the United States and virtually everyone praise China’s participation in six of the seven current UN peacekeeping operations in Africa. China provides about 1,500 military and police personnel (primarily engineers, medical and logistics). This is a larger number than any other permanent member of the UN Security Council and compares with about 30 from the United States, which does provide about a quarter of the funding for these operations. The United States and China collaborated in building barracks for UN peacekeepers in Liberia. China has also worked cooperatively with the United States and other countries in combatting Somali piracy in the Gulf of Aden where China has assigned two frigates and a supply ship since 2008.

An area that cries out for US-China cooperation is development assistance. Both countries provide important anti-malaria assistance to Africa without the benefit of collaboration. The treatment of neglected tropical diseases such as hookworm and schistosomiasis that each afflicts 200 million Africans is an obvious area for cooperation. Another area is pandemic preparedness. Both countries have unique experience and expertise that if combined could work to the advantage of African countries.

The United States and China have strong domestic agricultural programs, albeit based on different operating principles. Both countries also have significant experience in aiding African agriculture, which desperately needs revival in many countries. Some 60 percent of the African labor force works in agriculture and is still not able to grow enough food to feed its people.

A number of African governments fear that the United States will use cooperation with China to attach political conditions to its development assistance and, as a result, they discourage China from pursuing this idea. This response is short-sighted. From an African perspective there may be an advantage in encouraging China-US competition for commercial contracts and trade. Competition is, however, largely irrelevant when it comes to development assistance for most African countries. Unfortunately, China seems to have accepted the African argument.

Africa is an ideal location for the United States and China to reduce mutual suspicion and benefit African countries at the same time.

 [h4]中国、非洲,以及对美国的启示[/h4]

中国与美国在非洲有着惊人的相似利益。双方都越来越依赖于非洲的石油,而且中国还从非洲进口大量的矿产;双方都寻求非洲54个国家的政治支持,(因为)它们占据着超过四分之一的联合国席位。同时,中美两国都视非洲为越来越具有吸引力的出口市场,尽管今天非洲国家作为一个整体只占中美两国出口额的一小部分。

中国同时希望在非洲推广自己的“一个中国”政策——目前,依然有四个非洲国家承认台湾政权。而这却不是美国的利益所在。对美国来说,他们希望在非洲减少恐怖主义、毒品交易、国际犯罪、海盗和洗钱活动在非洲的影响,从而保证它们不祸及美国在非或本土利益。虽然这些事情也渐渐触及到了中国的利益,但对中国,它们还没有像对美国那样重要。同时,美国希望自己的海军能继续使用非洲港口,并保持在非洲领空飞行和降落军用飞机的能力。这对于中国来说还不是一个重要的利益点。

在非洲,中美两国面临潜在的商业竞争。在最近几年,中国都是以压倒性优势在竞争中超越了美国,这在很大程度上是因为中国在这方面更加努力以及中国的国有企业相较美国的私人企业优势巨大。中国公司通常是作为政府支持项目的一部分而进入非洲的。结果,中国公司抢占了大型基础建设项目市场,在通信产业大动作不断,现在又进军银行业。

在非洲,中国的商业竞争并不是唯一的。美国在非洲的成功将需要私营部门更大的努力和美国政府更多的支持,包括来自进出口银行的更多的资金。有趣的是,石油并不是中国严重挑战美国的领域。美国和西方的石油巨头在中国公司到来很久之前就已经进入了非洲。他们比中国的公司拥有更好的技术。再说,石油是一种“可替代商品”,只要有钱,谁都可以买。

从美国政府的角度出发,中国在非洲最麻烦的一点是,中国并不愿意去鼓励更好的政府治理和人权实践。而在非洲大陆,很多国家需要这些方面的巨大进步。这是美国在对非洲政策中的一个特点,尽管美国在非洲推行政策时存在有一些不一致的行为。在像苏丹、津巴布韦这样的国家里,中国的影响力远胜美国,但是因为自身奉行的“不干涉”政策,中国选择远离对民主实践的鼓励。

同时,中美两国的对非政策也在重要领域有交集。两国都寻求政治稳定、希望结束恐怖主义。从战术上来说,两国追求政治稳定的方法有所不同。中国把重点放在经济发展和降低贫困水平上。

美国虽然也强烈支持这些以上几项,但是同时也推行改善政治治理和人权实践。虽然中国也希望对抗恐怖主义,但似乎它对美国的某些举动表示怀疑,比如对武装回应的严重依赖,这其中就包括了对索马里青年党的导弹攻击和无人机攻击。

在另一方面,美国和几乎所有国家都对中国参与目前联合国在非七个维和项目中的六个表示赞许。中国一共派出了一千五百名军人和警务人员(主要是工程师,医疗人员和后勤人员)。这个数量超过了任何联合国安理会其他常任理事国派出的人员数量。相比之下,美国只派出了30个人,虽然它资助了大约四分之一的维和行动经费。中国与美国合作在利比亚为联合国维和部队修建了营房。同时中国还和美国及其他一些国家合作,一起开展了打击亚丁湾索马里海盗的活动。从2008年起,中国在打击海盗活动中派出了两艘护卫舰和一艘补给舰。

发展援助是急需中美合作的一个领域。中美两国都向非洲提供了重要的对抗疟疾的援助,却没有获得合作所能带来的利益。另一个明显的可以合作的领域是关于那些被人忽略的热带疾病的治疗。这些热带疾病一般包括十二指肠虫、吸血虫病等,它们折磨着两亿非洲人。另一个领域是地区性疾病的预防。(在这个领域),两国都有着独特的防治经历和技术。如果能将两国的资源合并,那么非洲国家能够获利。

虽然是基于不同的运作理念,中美两国都有强大的本国农业项目。同时,两个国家也有援助非洲农业的丰富经验。这些经验急需在很多国家再次利用起来。约有60%的非洲劳动力从事着农业工作,但他们所生产的食物依然不能满足当地人的需求。

一些非洲国家政府担心,美国将会利用和中国合作的机会对向非洲的发展援助提出附加的政治条件,所以他们阻碍中国去执行这个想法(与美国合作)。这样的反应是没有远见的。从非洲的角度出发,鼓励中美发展将在商务合同和贸易上的竞争也许将对当地有益;然而对于大多数非洲国家来说,在发展援助方面,这种竞争几乎是(和本国)没什么关联的。但不幸的是,中国似乎接受了非洲的论点。

非洲是中美两国减少互相猜忌的理想场所,而非洲国家也能同时获利。 Credits:

The original article was written by David Shinn. David is an adjunct professor in the Elliott School of International Affairs at George Washington University, co-author of “China and Africa: A Century of Engagement”, and former US ambassador to Burkina Faso and Ethiopia.

The original article was translated into Chinese by Xiaomei Wu.

Photo: China’s then President Hu Jintao gestures to Benin’s President Thomas Yayi Boni during the opening ceremony of the Fifth Ministerial Conference of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) in Beijing on July 19, 2012.  Jason Lee/Reuters

[toggle title=”Get Code”]
[pre]
content
content
[/pre]
[/toggle]