U.S.-China great-power competition in Africa is well under way. In recent years, China has significantly advanced its strategic economic, political, and military interests across the continent. Beijing has used its wide-ranging Belt and Road Initiative and other means of economic engagement to expand influence and market access globally, including in sub-Saharan Africa. This is not news. Less reported is that China is increasing its influence over governments and elites across Africa, impairing budding democratic practices along the way.
America’s increasing focus on rivalry with China ensures that U.S. Africa policy will continue to be viewed, at least in part, through a China lens.
Chinese government-linked entities are exploiting and exacerbating “governance gaps” in vulnerable countries, using corruption and a lack of transparency to conclude deals that undermine political accountability and ensure China’s long-term influence. Beijing is also coopting journalists and using targeted propaganda and investments in the media sector to shape the information environment to its advantage in places across Africa.
America’s increasing focus on rivalry with China ensures that U.S. Africa policy will continue to be viewed, at least in part, through a China lens. It is critical, however, that the new Biden Administration avoid approaches that have led to failures in the past, including adopting an overly “securitized” approach to the continent and making generalizations about “debt-trap diplomacy” while overlooking Beijing’s efforts to undermine governance and coopt African elites.
Read the full article from American Purpose.
More from CNAS
As the war in Ukraine pushes past the six-month mark, NATO stands at a critical juncture. In the face of renewed great-power competition in Europe, the alliance has proved to ...
By Anna Pederson & Michael Angeloni
CommentaryRussia, Iran, and the Perils of Post-autocracy
Neither the Russian nor the Iranian regime is now specifically threatened. Each could hang on for years. But this month provided a glimpse of their eventual demise....
By Robert D. Kaplan
PodcastWhy Russia Is Losing the War in Ukraine
Andrea Kendall-Taylor, Director of the Transatlantic Security program at the Center for a New American Security, joins The Ezra Klein Show to discuss how and why in recent wee...
By Andrea Kendall-Taylor
PodcastNew Phase of War: Ukrainian Offensive and Russian Mobilization, with Mick Ryan and Rob Lee
How have recent Ukrainian counteroffensives changed the trajectory of the war? Will Putin’s announcement of Russian mobilization increase the risk of potential escalation? Aft...
By Andrea Kendall-Taylor, Jim Townsend, Mick Ryan & Rob Lee