China Mocks Hundreds of Millions U.S. Pledged to Africa as ‘Not Real Money’

Vice President Kamala Harris with President Nana Akufo-Addo of Ghana
The Presidency-Republic of Ghana

China’s state-run Global Times on Monday mocked the Biden administration for trying to compete with China for the affections of Africa by spending a fraction of the money Beijing has invested on the continent.

The Chinese propagandists chided Vice President Kamala Harris, Secretary of State Antony Blinken, and other administration officials for “repeating promises rather than delivering real money.”

The Global Times criticized Harris for her money-dispensing swing through Africa this week because her efforts would only “make African countries feel the pressure of being squeezed by great power competition.”

“This is still a Cold War mentality of geopolitical competition, whose fundamental purpose is not for Africa’s development, but for the interests of the U.S.,” the Global Times charged.

The article quoted Beijing Foreign Studies University professor Song Wei accusing the U.S. of using its democratic ally Ghana as a “point of entry” into Africa so it could play the “value card,” which is the brutal Chinese regime’s contemptuous way of talking about human rights.

The Chinese are confident that Africa’s often kleptocratic and dictatorial governments would much prefer allying with non-judgmental China than with Western nations that expect them to treat their people with dignity. Song also implied that African leaders will find China’s nakedly self-interested and amoral foreign policy more reliable than Western idealism, which can be tossed by the winds of public opinion and democratic elections.

“No matter how good the U.S. officials say and how many promises they make, what matters is whether they deliver on those promises. Otherwise, for African countries, the US is still sending a blank check and making a political show,” Song said.

Another Global Times editorial on Monday objected to Western media accounts of reduced Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) spending in Africa because focusing on China spending 55 percent less money last year misses the “real significance” of the program.

The Global Times accused Western media of dwelling on China’s reduced spending as a political ploy to set the stage for Harris as she announced new U.S. spending programs in Africa. 

It took a while for the editorial to get around to explaining what the “real significance” of BRI might be, beyond the money China has spent over the years, which the Global Times doted on in exhaustive detail. Eventually, the “real significance” was revealed to be that African nations are too deeply in debt to China to consider switching their political allegiance:

Whether the US admits it or not, the infrastructure cooperation between China and Africa has laid the economic foundation for the region’s long-term development. While some Western media outlets may hype up the decline in China’s investment related to the BRI infrastructure in Africa, it should be noted that China remains a major financer of infrastructure projects in the region.

Indeed, after years of infrastructure construction, the BRI in Africa has entered a new phase, which is not just about funding and providing infrastructure, but about how to use the infrastructure to boost industrial development and create jobs. Only by this way can Africa’s economy grasp the potential to grow sustainably.

The article awkwardly acknowledged the mountain of African debt by touting the next phase of BRI as “small but smart” projects that will not require the huge, unrepayable loans of the past – loans China may no longer be capable of making, with its economy greatly weakened.

The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) on Wednesday handicapped the race for influence in Africa as still China’s to lose, speculating that the Biden administration’s call for billions of dollars in private investment will be somewhat coolly received by American and European businessmen who are still worried about “corruption, poor infrastructure and still rampant poverty” that make Africa a high-risk environment.

“The Chinese system is a lot more centralized, and state power plays a much larger role. The Chinese view on Africa has been very opportunity focused. There is this very strong focus on risk in the U.S. private sector, to the exclusion of all of the opportunities,” said Cobus van Staden of the China-Global South Project, more elegantly explaining the Global Times’ assertion that China’s cold-blooded but logical approach to pursuing its self-interest plays better in Africa than humanitarian handouts and wheedling private companies to make risky investments.

The WSJ noted that China offered about $120 billion in financing to African projects between 2007 and 2020, compared to $14 billion for the United States.


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