China wins in clash of systems on African battlefield » Capital News


If Europe, and the West in general, had any doubts about how it is currently perceived by a cross-section of Africans, the verdict is in. The revelations are not hearsay or conjecture. This is the result of a perception survey of 1,000 respondents in 25 African countries published recently by the Kenya-based Inter-Regional Economic Network (IREN Kenya).

According to the June 2022 report titled “THE CLASH OF SYSTEMS – African Perceptions of the European Union and China’s Engagement”, China has overtaken the EU on many fronts, including where the EU was. traditionally presumed to have an unassailable lead. The report, which is one of the strongest statements on China’s meteoric rise, was produced between October and December 2021.

The competence of the respondents is irreproachable. They came mainly from academia, journalists, think tanks, researchers, non-governmental organizations, regional economic bodies and government agencies on the continent.

Specifically, the report shows that China is the most preferred partner for its non-interference in the internal affairs of African nation states, its quick decision-making and its rapid completion of infrastructure projects. On the other hand, the EU places great importance on soft power exchanges, high standards and climate change awareness.

Such a humble revelation is food for thought for the former close partner in Africa. In order to get to the root of the continent’s growing resentment towards Europe, the EU needs to undertake some serious soul-searching. It wouldn’t be hard to find some basic facts.

Post-colonial Africa sees little benefit from its former colonial masters. The Western capitalist economic structures left behind have created wealth for a small privileged class at the expense of millions wallowing in poverty. Critics of the cutthroat socio-economic competition bequeathed by Europe have characterized the system as one that symbolically creates 10 millionaires and 10 million poor people.

According to the survey’s perception dichotomy, China is seen as more pragmatic in its areas of partnership with African countries. Since its grand entrance into Africa a few decades ago, China has in fact accelerated the economic development of the continent through concrete infrastructure projects and trade relations that produce tangible results for individuals and their countries.

The report rightly notes that while Europe’s presence in Africa dates back centuries to China-turned-Johnny, the latter has generally eclipsed the EU. The survey notes that China has “made inroads on the mainland and made great strides in comprehensive, multilevel and far-reaching cooperation.”

Although misleading if taken at face value, there seems to be some sort of convergence in Sino-Euro perceptions of Africa’s debt. According to the survey, China and the EU are seen as deploying debt trap diplomacy. But on closer analysis, China does not come close to indebting Africa to the West.

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In fact, UK-based lobby group Debt Justice recently defended China against the popular Western-driven “debt trap” conspiracy theory that claims the first mortgage Africa’s national assets with unpayable debt. Debt Justice revealed that African governments owe three times more debt to Western banks, asset managers and oil traders than to China. In addition, they are charged double the interest.

The survey found that 12% of African governments’ external debt is owed to Chinese lenders, compared to 35% to Western private lenders. Moreover, half of the 22 most indebted African countries owe more than 30% to private lenders, while only six owe the same levels to China. And, unlike China, Western companies have not suspended debt repayments during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The perception report did not say that there is in fact a clash of civilizations on African soil, and that Africa is siding with the most empathetic and compassionate partner. Moreover, as Africa overcomes its European colonial heritage, it gradually rediscovers its stolen identity. Europe’s social, economic, political and cultural system is out of step with what Welsh journalist and explorer Henry Morton Stanley contemptuously called the “Dark Continent”.

There is something of a renaissance in Africa, with Africans demanding justice from those who have oppressed them for centuries. For example, the return of priceless artefacts that were stolen during European colonialism, especially by Germany and the UK, shows a desire for the restoration of Africa after centuries of plunder by the West.

It is no coincidence that China turns out to be a true friend in Africa’s journey. China and Africa have more in common as a people, both historically and culturally. This is the reason why China does not interfere in the internal affairs of its African partners, which is one of the pillars of enduring China-Africa relations. China is convinced that in due time, and as it learns its lessons, Africa will be more resilient and stronger.

For the EU to regain a decent level of presence on the continent, the survey recommends that “the European Union must overcome its paternalistic mindset and adopt a posture of strategic partnership in its grand strategy towards Africa”. . While you’re at it, a few tips from China might do the trick.

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