Chinese investments in Africa could benefit everyone if international rules are respected> US Department of Defense> Defense Department News

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Recently, in a closed-door discussion facilitated by the African Center for Strategic Studies in Washington, DC, U.S. defense officials joined African, European and American academics to discuss China’s involvement. in the second largest continent in the world. One of the takeaways was that China’s investment and participation there can be beneficial and welcome, as long as China meets established global standards.

“China is expected to be in Africa for a long time – and that’s okay,” said Chad L. Sbragia, Assistant US Under Secretary of Defense for China. But, Sbragia explained, American and African partners want China to behave fairly.

“The expectations are that when the United States or China engages in Africa, it is done in accordance with the practices that we all have, including African nations, dear ones,” Sbragia said. “It is with transparency and an understanding of compliance with international standards.”

Transparency, Sbragia said, means being open and honest about how and why activities are carried out and also fully publicizing what is being done.

“There are a lot of issues that revolve around the debt, the loan transfers, the investments that are made, the money that is paid,” he said. “All of this should be done in the most informed way possible.”

This straightforward approach, Sbragia said, is something the United States brings to the table when it negotiates with its partners, both in Africa and elsewhere.

“It’s part of what I think our biggest contribution comes from the United States, is to showcase and help highlight the best practices of the international system,” Sbragia said. “We help filter foreign investments, ensure that all of them are of high quality, that they support long-term development in favor of the interests of Africans and do not undermine the sovereignty of these nations or the world system. that we are all stakeholders in. “

Ronald W. Meyers, Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for African Affairs, added that African nations face a range of challenges, so it should come as no surprise that they are looking to diversify their partnerships. “In terms of security, they want partnerships to address local concerns about the insecurity of violent extremist organizations (VEO) and foreign intrusion into sovereign spaces, such as the maritime space, among other priorities,” Meyers said. “These are areas where we share common concerns, already work closely together and have a vested interest in international rules being followed.” The cooperation efforts of the Ministry in matters of security are one way of promoting mutual interests.

“The United States Africa Command is overseeing many of these efforts for the Department under the valuable leadership of General Stephen Townsend and his team,” Meyers noted. The United States provides its partners in Africa with quality training and equipment, with an emphasis on support that increases the accountability and resilience of African defense institutions. US aid contributes to long-term stability – as our training is often multi-year and requires constant US investment – a reflection of the US’s enduring commitment to our partners, Meyers explained.

Meyers said the United States has mutually beneficial partnerships on the continent today, and in some cases those relationships go back over 60 years. “African nations are exporters of global security,” he said. “They are the biggest contributor to peacekeeping missions around the world. They try to do things their own way. And they hire their own staff to defend our common interests.”

African nations play an important role in international politics and in the world economy. With a booming youth population, rapidly expanding markets, and occupying the largest voting bloc in the United Nations, many experts predict that African voices will only amplify in the future – and the United States. are ready to listen. Meyers said: “We want to work more with African countries on issues related to global security. We want to know how we can better work together to see stability together, not just in Africa. We have a lot to learn from each other.

With 54 countries on the African continent, there are opportunities to strengthen and expand U.S. security partnerships there, said Acting Under Secretary of Defense for Policy James H. Anderson, who is also the boss of Sbragia and Meyers.

“As China makes potentially useful contributions to peacekeeping and the fight against piracy, it is important that we take a close look to understand which contributions really advance African interests and which mask nefarious intentions,” he said. Anderson said.

“China has expanded its global military presence as a means of protecting investment and exerting economic leverage on host countries. China is particularly seeking to build overseas logistics and basic infrastructure beyond the base of the People’s Liberation Army (APL) that it established in Djibouti in 2017, ”said Anderson.

Meyers and Sbragia say the African partners have said they don’t want to have to choose between the United States and China – but they’ve already made a choice about which world they want to be a part of.

“You hear that from some countries, not just Africa, meaning don’t make us choose between China or the United States,” Sbragia said. “But when they talk about the choices they’ve already made, it’s clear that they support the same type of system that the United States advocates – a system built on good governance. We all have a stake in the system like this. that it is, not in the one that the Chinese are trying to impose on us. “

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