Date: Tuesday, 28 February 2023
China’s newly appointed foreign minister, Qin Gang, upheld a 33-year tradition by making his first trip since taking office to Africa. Gang visited Ethiopia, Angola, Gabon, Benin, and Egypt. Chinese President Xi Jinping has prominently elevated the continent as a foreign policy priority and himself traveled there ten times between 2014 and 2020.
After Beijing launched its Belt and Road Initiative in 2013, Chinese investment in Africa surged, peaking at $28.4 billion in 2016. For 2020 the figure was only $1.9 billion, lowered, in part, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, changing Chinese priorities, and African governments’ difficulties repaying Chinese loans.
Meanwhile, President Joe Biden’s administration has deepened US engagement with Africa. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen and US Ambassador to the United Nations Linda Thomas-Greenfield visited in January. A month before that, Biden hosted 49 African leaders at the United States-Africa Leaders Summit in Washington, DC. He announced then that he will visit sub-Saharan Africa later this year, the first trip there by a US president in a decade.
To discuss China’s interests and US-China competition in Africa, host Bonnie Glaser speaks with Dr. Joshua Eisenman, associate professor of politics at the Keough School of Global Affairs at the University of Notre Dame. Eisenman’s research focuses on China’s development and its relations with the Global South, particularly Africa. His forthcoming book, China’s Relations with Africa: A New Era of Strategic Engagement, co-authored with Ambassador David Shinn, will be available this summer.