The scramble for Africa III: China’s no-strings approach is attractive


african-flag-in-africia-China1It’s hard to expect true love breaking out despite President Obama’s ongoing virtual date with African leaders. The US wants to widen trade ties with the continent but seems to have decided it is better to get the mountain to Mahomet rather than the other, more logical, way round.

Had it been uncharacteristic for the Chinese to be unrestrained, they would be rolling in the aisles, overcome with helpless laughter.

For starters, the American Summit is a whole year late. Beijing’s white paper on ‘China-Africa Economic and Trade Cooperation’ was published in August 2013.

Second, the Summit comes five years after China became Africa’s leading trading partner. In 2012, China’s direct investment in Africa increased from $1.44 billion to $2.52 billion. Its direct investment in Africa increased from $9.33 billion to $21.23 billion in the same period.

Remember Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe’s famous remark that deciding to do more business with the “East where the sun rises and less with the West where it sets”?