With the potential of enabling not only significant economic growth but also the innovation of critical technologies in various fields, both the US and China view 5G as one of the key influencing factors in the “great power competition”.
In his recently-published memoirs, Egypt’s former foreign minister, Nabil Fahmy, painted a clear picture of the prevalent mood inside Egypt’s ruling establishment concerning the country’s stance towards great powers. In the 2000s, he explains, former president Hosni Mubarak and many of his aides “came to believe” that the United States was pushing for a regime change agenda in Egypt.
There is no compelling reason why the 21st century should become “China’s century.” It could however be defined by the “China question”, as large parts of the 19th and the 20th centuries were defined by “the German question” (and to some extent also by the Japanese one); we also know their outcome. Hopefully the China question can avoid their tragic fate, but if it does the center of the conflict will be in Asia, and it will involve both China and the United States.
Africa’s development aspirations have always rested on the possibilities and policies inherent in achieving rapid industrialisation. Africans believe that key interventions in industrial policy would lay the foundation for sustained growth, business and job creation. In contemporary China, African policy makers seem to have found a development partner whose interests, experiences and capacities match these continental ambitions.
In the space of a decade and a half, China has become Africa’s largest bilateral creditor, with having committed to lend over 150bn USD between 2000-2018, larger than any OECD (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development) lender, and near-matching the World Bank in Africa. Along with growing trade and Foreign Direct Investments (FDI), these capital flows from China, accelerating under the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), have been met with consternation from the US and western media outlets.
Between 2000 and 2011, Beijing’s policy banks gave US$53.4 billion in concessional loans and lines of credit to 43 African countries; this trend accelerated after 2012, as noted above, bringing Africa’s debt to China sharply up to US$143 billion by 2017, with loans provided by the China Development Bank (CDB) and the EXIM Bank of China reaching US$35.5 billion and US$55.7 billion respectively. This represents roughly 22.9% of China’s total external loans and a similar percentage, 22% or so, of Africa’s entire external debts.
The COVID-19 crisis is likely to have a devastating effect on Africa. As of June 2020 the number of cases is surprisingly small, which may reflect inadequate testing or an early stage of a much worse epidemic. But what is clear is that the economic impact of the worldwide epidemic will bring the most severe recession that Africa has experienced for decades.
The standoff between India and China at the Line of Actual Control (LAC), a disputed border between the two nuclear-armed powers, has been going on for a while. It has been a main story in South Asia, since at least 20 Indian soldiers were killed, while Beijing is yet to say anything on casualties, however it was reported that five PLA soldiers died as well. This has been the worst stand-off between the two regional powers in over 45 years.
China is having a good crisis. The spread of Covid-19 in China – if one believes the statistics and declarations of the Chinese government – is under control, while many Western countries (and the U.S. in particular) are confronted with a rising number of infections and the prospects of new and prolonged partial or total lockdowns.