The US Africa Command: Threat for Sino-Africa Relations

Since the last two decades, the Sino-African relations have been growing at a tremendous pace. Particularly, in the area of trade and finance, China is becoming the biggest partner in Africa fast replacing the United States and European states dominance in the continent. Currently, China seems the biggest benefactor of this relation because of its remarkable technological and industrial achievements. In relative terms, Africa is also benefiting from its relation with China, in comparative terms, than with other powers. Coupled with the change in international arena and the discovery of oil in different parts of Africa the Sino-Africa relation is attracting superpower attention on Africa. This is leading to rivalry between the U.S and China in Africa. On one hand, competition over African resources is a positive sign that marks the end of African exclusion from the international political economic system. On the other hand, however, the competition threatens the sovereignty of the African states in general terms. In particular one of the major threats, I argue, is the recently observed U.S foreign policy shift towards Africa that culminated in the establishment of the U.S.A. Unified Africa Combatant Command ‘Plus’ entity in February 2007. The ‘plus’ aspect of the command has the propensity to militarize or securitize the United States foreign policy towards Africa in all dimensions. This paper inquires; the nature and strategic threat the U.S Africa Command (AFRICOM) pose on the continuation of Sino-Africa relations. In addition, the author argues the ‘whole government’ approach (defense, development and diplomacy) the Command is taking and the strategic consideration of controlling ‘ungoverned space’ in guise of perverting and combating terrorism are designed to meddle in the African states foreign policy choices systematically and impede Chinese growing relation with African states. Hence, African states needs to develop an able approach that ensures the continuation of the U.S – Africa relations without the threat of securitization and that approaches actors on both sides equally. Moreover, the African states option to select foreign developmental partner should be kept intact, especially with China because of multifaceted nature and size of the relation.

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