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US vs. China in Africa

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A Different Kind of Great Game</SPAN>

 

By Paul McLeary

 

March 2007

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Are China and the United States heading for a showdown over Africa?

 

 

 

 

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STR/AFP/Getty Images

Red carpet treatment: Not everyone was so welcoming on the Hu Jintao’s Africa trip.

 

 

In a trip that went almost totally unnoticed in the United States, Chinese President Hu Jintao took an eight-country jaunt across the African continent in early February, signing trade and investment agreements at every stop along the way, while forgiving debts and offering interest-free loans worth hundreds of millions more.

Within a week’s time, President Bush announced that a new combatant command for Africa, AFRICOM, would begin operations in September 2008. The new command will fill a gaping hole the United States has long left in its strategic concerns in Africa. The move to consolidate the U.S. military’s responsibilities toward the continent reflects the United States’ worry about the dangers that could rise from Africa’s weaknesses, such as its failing states and its increasing Islamic militancy.

The fact that Hu’s visit and the announcement of AFRICOM coincided was most likely a coincidence. The Pentagon has been planning AFRICOM for years, and China’s involvement in Africa is hardly new. That said, it’s obvious that both powers are sinking more assets into the continent at a time of growing instability and greater competition for resources. Although they may be ultimately drawn to Africa for different reasons, the United States and China could be headed for a collision in the most unlikely of places.

China’s interests in Africa are overwhelmingly economic. Gone are the days when China’s main interest in African countries was to ensure that they didn’t establish diplomatic relations with Taiwan. For the resource-hungry Chinese, Africa’s oil and mineral deposits are enticing, and the continent has provided a growing market for cheap Chinese textile goods. China’s trade with Africa rose from $10.6 billion in 2000 to about $55 billion in 2006, and Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao says China intends to increase trade with the continent to $100 billion by 2010.

A good chunk of this trade has to do with African oil. China has accounted for a full 40 percent of the total growth in global demand for oil over the last four years, and has shot past Japan as the world’s second-largest consumer of oil behind the United States. Just this past January, the Chinese energy company CNOOC Ltd. announced plans to purchase a 45 percent stake in an offshore Nigerian oil field for $2.27 billion.

For the United States, the calculus for getting more involved in Africa is vastly different. While the world’s attention has been riveted on Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan for the past six years, countries in the Horn and northern Africa have seen an alarming increase in interstate conflict. There is also the resurgent Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat, a terrorist group in Algeria that has just changed its name to the Al Qaeda Organization in the Islamic Maghreb. AFRICOM’s portfolio will be to monitor these conflicts and groups, train indigenous militaries to confront terrorist threats, and to respond militarily, as in Somalia this past winter, when the situation arises. All that comes on top of the continued humanitarian missions regularly conducted by the Pentagon in various African countries such as Liberia. Washington now believes that the potential threats emanating from Africa are significant enough to warrant a single, coherent command structure devoted to the continent, as opposed to the past system of several combatant commands sharing responsibility and potentially working at cross purposes.

But these motivations—a pursuit of energy resources and desire to quell the most dangerous forms of instability—will probably not lead to any direct conflicts between the United States and China any time soon, if ever. Rather, if these two powers are going to come to blows in the near term, it will most likely be in the diplomatic and development arena. Although a geostrategic competition over oil supplies in Africa remains unlikely, a greater concern, according to Alex de Waal, a fellow at the Global Equity Initiative at Harvard University, is the way in which “the peace and security and democracy agenda … has been jeopardized by the Chinese weighing in with large scale uncritical support of Sudan, of Zimbabwe, and Angola.”

For years, China has been offering loans, building critical infrastructure, and providing engineering and military advice and hardware to African regimes without extracting any promises that the regimes clean up their human rights records—something Western countries insist upon before aid is shipped. This uncritical support of its African partners has allowed China to make diplomatic inroads on the continent, since it provides aid without strings attached, as opposed to the Western approach of basing aid on human rights and good governance benchmarks that many African regimes are unwilling, or slow, to make. Put simply, an African farmer would rather have a Chinese road built from his village to the market today, rather than wait for an American or World Bank road to be built only after the government makes the required reforms. Thus, it’s on human rights and governance, not oil or strict security matters, that the interests of the United States and China will likely collide.

In such a fight, China’s unfettered aid would seem to have the upper hand. But that may not necessarily be so. “In places like South Africa and Nigeria, the flood of textiles has displaced a lot of people in the textile industry,” says Jennifer Cooke, co-director of the Center for Strategic and International Studies’ Africa Program. “And as they get more engaged, they’re going to be pushed to take up issues like worker conditions and employment quotas and corporate social responsibility issues that U.S. companies were pushed to do over the 1970s and 1980s.”

Already, there is evidence of demands for more responsibility. Hu’s planned visit to Zambia was marred by the threat of protests. Unsafe working conditions at Chinese-run copper mines and the low wages paid to local workers at Chinese businesses emerged as campaign issues in last fall’s Zambian presidential election. And in late 2006, Gabon forced a Chinese energy company to stop drilling for oil due to environmentally unsafe practices, and South African textile trade unions are loudly pressing their government to curb Chinese apparel and textiles imports.

Given their competing approaches to the continent—the humanitarian and military approach favored by the United States, and the purely economic policy favored by China—it’s clear that Africa will be the scene of some major disagreements between the two powers. The United States’ uneven track record in the war on terror doesn’t inspire much confidence, but the fact that Africa will no longer be split among several military commands is cause for some hope. It remains to be seen, however, if African regimes prefer the quick investment that China is willing to provide, or the less tangible, longer-term health and stability that the United States is promising.

 

 

 

Paul McLeary is a staff writer for the Columbia Journalism Review and has contributed to The Christian Science Monitor, The Guardian and The San Francisco Chronicle.

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If you like huge hegemony debates the china CP with the advantage of subverting US hegemony is going to be the way to go.

 

Although you could go the opposite route, and argue that African adventures never gave anyone a long-term advantage. The only reason they give a damn are the mineral and oil sources, but those are global markets (it doesn't matter if you're influential with the suppliers; all that matters is price which is a function of global supply and demand) and all the African countries are still tiny players anyway.

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or you could just go for china cp and avoid the china relations disad? i think the strat becomes too one dimensional when it is simply answered thru hege good/bad cards and not the warrants of the actual argument. i think goin for china cp and avoiding the link of "china gets pissed at US for aid to africa" is better because its more plausible and opens up more impact scenarios. even though the disad can probly be spun the same way with a link saying US gets pissed at chinese action -- even tho it won't be nearly as strong as the link going the other way in the normal disad because 1. hu jintau just visited 8 countries accross africa with a summit meeting making arrangements for all types of trade agreements/aid 2. US empirically uses diplomacy to leverage themselves agasint china w/o military pressure whereas china is much more likely to freak out post plan and cause the impacts. US is probly more likely to impose more trade restrictions like the restriction on glossy paper passed a couple days ago

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We already have a china da/cp and it is sweet : )

what gonzaga files...yea you are not alone

also anyone who face mead in the days of dana knows mead is alright on the china debate so we should have some really good, educational debates next year dude, I'm looking forward to it

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the format of this Cp would

 

Counter Plan text

The USFG should let china do the plan

 

Net-Benefit

China get piss at the US for getting involved ssb-africa

 

Competition

don't know how to write this part

 

Solvency

Letting China Do the plan not only solves the Net Benefit But all the Affirmative Advantages

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what gonzaga files...yea you are not alone

also anyone who face mead in the days of dana knows mead is alright on the china debate so we should have some really good, educational debates next year dude, I'm looking forward to it

 

hoo ya, sounds good, but it was not a GU file, it was homemade.

 

Also, our cp is a bit different then the one above.

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How is your China Cp different

 

and what was supposed to go in competition i didn't know what to write

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competition is that the actor of the cp is china, and the actor of the aff plan is the usfg(branches tooo) the texts are mutually exclusive because china and the usfg arent the same thing, that is a textually competitive cp.

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I see some problems with this article. The author goes straight from "The US and China give different types of humanitarian aid" to "there will probably be a clash between the US and China over human rights." Huh? Why would China care whether we solve for African health/infrastructure? Wouldn't that just give them a more stable source of oil and other resources, which, according to the author, is China's "overwhelming" interest?

 

I think what this guy is tryingto say isn't that humanitarian efforts piss off China, but that China's status quo support of countries like Sudan and Zimbabwe pisses of the United States. Unless there's a very specific link between the plan and Chinese economic interests, I don't think this card says anything.

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competition is that the actor of the cp is china, and the actor of the aff plan is the usfg(branches tooo) the texts are mutually exclusive because china and the usfg arent the same thing, that is a textually competitive cp.
That does not mean they are mutually exclusive. There is no reason on face why both the USFG and the Chinese Gov't could not do the plan.

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That does not mean they are mutually exclusive. There is no reason on face why both the USFG and the Chinese Gov't could not do the plan.

 

no, but China will not be able to obtain Hegemony, which is better for the world, if both do it. The perm would not have as much solvency as the counterplan, so the counterplan would still win

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no, but China will not be able to obtain Hegemony, which is better for the world, if both do it. The perm would not have as much solvency as the counterplan, so the counterplan would still win

 

That's not mutual exclusivity. That's competition by Net benefits.

 

Mutual exclusivity= Both plans can't be done at the same time.

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no, but China will not be able to obtain Hegemony, which is better for the world, if both do it. The perm would not have as much solvency as the counterplan, so the counterplan would still win

 

Yeah - that's just competition via NB's.

 

The strategic thing about a China CP is that you can garner the actual solvency of the 1AC for things like HIV/failed states/terrorism/etc., while avoiding the obvious disads (heg bad, politics, spending).

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the format of this Cp would

 

Counter Plan text

The USFG should let china do the plan

 

Net-Benefit

China get piss at the US for getting involved ssb-africa

 

Competition

don't know how to write this part

 

Solvency

Letting China Do the plan not only solves the Net Benefit But all the Affirmative Advantages

Text: The Peoples Republic of China should ____________________

 

Contention 1--Non-Topical: The Counterplan doesn't use the USFG

 

Contention 2--Competition: Competes through net benifits

 

Contention 3--Solvency: China would solve just as well as the aff

<CARD>

 

DIFFERENT FLOW (DONT FLOW UR NB ON THE SAME PAGE)

 

Net Benifits

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Text: The Peoples Republic of China should ____________________

 

Contention 1--Non-Topical: The Counterplan doesn't use the USFG

 

Contention 2--Competition: Competes through net benifits

 

Contention 3--Solvency: China would solve just as well as the aff

<CARD>

 

DIFFERENT FLOW (DONT FLOW UR NB ON THE SAME PAGE)

 

Net Benifits

 

You don't really have to make competition and non-topical arguments in the 1NC, if the aff makes the args answer them in the block. I think it's really a waste of time when teams go up and read their consult CP shells and say "and the cp is mutually exclusive- can't initiate prior binding consultation and do the plan at the same time"....well duh, if the neg makes a perm on your china cp that doesn't avoid the net benefit then explain that in the block. And the CP is blatantly non-topical, if they run theory on you they're just stupid.

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1984 anybody? CP idea sounds pretty interesting, I need to think about it more though before making a fool of myself.

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You don't really have to make competition and non-topical arguments in the 1NC, if the aff makes the args answer them in the block. I think it's really a waste of time when teams go up and read their consult CP shells and say "and the cp is mutually exclusive- can't initiate prior binding consultation and do the plan at the same time"....well duh, if the neg makes a perm on your china cp that doesn't avoid the net benefit then explain that in the block. And the CP is blatantly non-topical, if they run theory on you they're just stupid.

well dude i think its just easier to waist the 4 seconds in the 1nc and deterring a retard who says TOPICAL CPS BAD WAH WAH WAH

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well dude i think its just easier to waist the 4 seconds in the 1nc and deterring a retard who says TOPICAL CPS BAD WAH WAH WAH

 

Whether you clarify that your cp is topical or not doesn't mean they're not going to say your cp is topical and that's bad, or if you say you compete it doesn't mean they're going to say "oh no, we can't perm." It's just a waste of 1NC reading stuff like that. If they perm the cp you're still going to have to say its mutually exclusive etc. and read evidence on that point. It may be a freshman/sophomore thing to do because I haven't seen people actually saying "competition, non topical etc." this year out of early prelims, and I hit states cp almost every aff round. It's kind of implied that if you're reading a cp it's going to compete, otherwise why read it lol.

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China to plug $20bn into Africa- http://news.africast.com/africastv/article.php?newsID=61986

 

SHANGHAI, May 18 -- China wants to ramp up its commitment to Africa by spending about $20bn on infrastructure and trade financing over the next three years, the Financial Times reported on Friday.

Donald Kaberuka, president of the African Development Bank, told the newspaper that officials from China's Exim Bank were looking to spend "in the neighbourhood of $20bn" over three years.

"That is quite something because it shows you what traditional donors are up against," Kaberuka said.

AfDB spokesperson Eric Chinje said the figures were an estimation.

"It is rough estimate of what Exim bank officials told president Kaberuka they wanted to invest over the next three to five years, including concessionary loans," Chinje said when asked to comment on the report.

The lending by Exim Bank, one of China's policy banks that channels funds earmarked to support state development, comes on top of China's previously announced $5bn development fund for Africa, Chinje said.

The report came after the end on Thursday of the annual AfDB meeting, which was held in Shanghai this year and in Asia for the first time.

The meeting brought 53 African and 24 non-African member countries to discuss how the AfDB could better stimulate the many struggling economies of the continent.

It also symbolised how China is seeking to expand its already formidable economic presence on the continent as it courts Africa with a variety of aid packages in exchange for access to its vast resources.

The report said the sums from China are beginning to outstrip individual contributions from traditional donors, including multilateral development agencies.

Their combined pledges "towards a special fund intended to assist sub-Saharan Africa to tackle shortfalls in electricity supply, roads and other infrastructure" are about $7bn, Kaberuka told the newspaper.

But Africa's needs were so great the $7bn so far promised still represented only "a drop in the ocean".

While grants and soft loans to Africa from Europe, the United States and Japan still exceed China's, they come with conditions attached and often fail to materialise when these are not met, the report said. - AFP

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