The Pentagon is worried: Russian and Chinese influence in Africa is growing

17.08.2019, Moscow.

Two senior Pentagon officers expressed their concerns in a written address to the US Congress over the fact that Russia and China are actively increasing their influence in African countries, the newspaper Intercept reports on August 13.

They fear of a growing possibility that Africa will be under the influence of Beijing and Moscow. According to Thomas Waldhauser, a US Marine Corps general, the former Commander of the US African Command, and his successor Stephen Townsend, Russia exerts influence over 10 different African countries, and China will build additional military bases there.

The generals point out that Russia and China are strengthening economic, military, diplomatic, and cultural ties in Africa.

In the last 40 years, trade between China and the countries of the African continent has grown from $765 million to $170 billion. In the meantime, 39 out of 54 countries have joined the Chinese “One Belt, One Way” project, which represents a large scale infrastructure network of roads, railways, ports and pipelines that will connect Eurasia, the Middle East and Africa.

Bilateral trade between Russia and Africa has grown from $ 5.7 billion to $ 17.4 billion in the years 2009-2017. Additionally, Russia is actively promoting cooperation in the field of nuclear energy and technology, as well as investment projects in the oil and natural gas industries.

Also, there is growing cultural cooperation. According to the U.S. African Command (AFRICOM), 48 branches of the Confucius Institute had been opened in 20 African countries in the years 2004-2018, while the Russkiy Mir Foundation, Russian non-profit non-governmental organization, operates in 9 African countries.

Military cooperation is also strengthening. Russia and China trade arms, organize military training programs and negotiate security terms. According to AFRICOM, Russian private military contractors are in 15 African countries.

Russia uses military assistance in return for privileges when signing contracts in mining and energy industries, believes Waldhauser. “To thwart Russian exploitative efforts, USAFRICOM continues to work with a host of partners to be the military partner of choice in Africa,”  he writes.

Temi Ibirogba program and research associate with the Africa Program at the Center for International Policy is sceptical about the US claims of charity and altruism in regards to Africa, calling its foreign policy aggressive. The US is more likely to provoke violence on the continent, rather than to restrain it, she said. And the US military has “the false perception that American foreign policy is loved and welcomed by Africans, but it’s really the Chinese who are winning there at the moment..”

Temi Ibirogba also commented on Waldhauser’s speech in the Senate in February 2019, where he expressed the need to limit “the harmful influence of non-African powers on the continent.

Waldhauser’s claim that non-African powers have a harmful influence in Africa is true — and the U.S. is one of those powers, ” said the expert.

Source: Rossa Primavera News Agency

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