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US should ask not what Africa can do for it, but what it can do for Africa: China Daily editorial

chinadaily.com.cn | Updated: 2024-01-24 19:27

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken delivers a speech during the American Corner Lekki Ribbon Cutting at 21st Century Technologies in Lagos, Nigeria, on Jan 24, 2024. [Photo/Agencies]

United States Secretary of State Antony Blinken's visit to four African countries this week is being viewed by many as part of the Joe Biden administration's geopolitical strategy to contend with Beijing for influence in Africa.

As Blinken started his visit to Cape Verde, Cote d'Ivoire, Nigeria and Angola on Monday, US Ambassador to the United Nations Linda Thomas-Greenfield is touring three other west African nations – Guinea-Bissau, Sierra Leone and Liberia.

The visits by the senior US officials at almost the same time speak volumes about the importance the Biden administration attaches to the US' relations with African countries. It also suggests how concerned Washington is about the increasingly important presence of China in Africa, although Molly Phee, assistant secretary of state for African affairs, dismissed the idea that the US is trying to compete with Beijing in Africa, claiming it is the media "who frame this as a US-China soccer match".

The irony is that Blinken watched a soccer match between Cote d'Ivoire and Equatorial Guinea in the African Cup of Nations at the 60,000-seat Olympic Stadium built with support from China. Yet, this very fact points to a phenomenon that wherever one goes in any African country, one can hardly ignore what China has done for African people, be it helping construct a hospital, a stadium, a government building or a school, let alone important infrastructure facilities such as railway lines, airports, highways, bridges and ports.

Phee said, "If China didn't exist, we would be fully engaged in Africa. Africa is important for its own sake and it's important for American interests." What she didn't say is that China's increasing presence in Africa has made Washington increasingly uneasy and it is because of this that the US is increasing its engagement with African countries as a matter of urgency.

But the question the Biden administration should be answering is not how can it reduce the influence of China in Africa, but what can the US do to assist the development of African countries.

China has been providing aid of various kinds within its means to African countries, not in pursuit of global hegemony or even a geopolitical sphere of influence. It has been doing all it can because of its long friendships with African countries and as part of its efforts to promote common prosperity.

China is not keeping a tally of how much the US is doing for African countries so it can engage in one-upmanship. Instead, China welcomes the US' engagement with African countries as the continent's development will benefit the world. China hopes that the US and other developed countries do whatever they can to help developing countries in need.

China is not interested in geopolitical rivalry. It only hopes that major countries give up their superpower mentality, their sense of superiority and ambition for dominance of the world. It is willing to work with the US, and the other developed countries, to support the development of the developing countries.

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