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How the Corona virus pandemic is fuelling China-US rivalry in Africa



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US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was adamant that “no country will rival what the US is doing” in terms of supporting the fight against Covid-19 in Africa. And he went further to say that “no nation ever has, or ever will” do more to support global health.
However, as Africa braces itself for a surge of coronavirus infections, both China and the US are claiming to be Africa’s greatest supporter, but there is more at stake in this escalating rivalry than simply tackling the virus.
It seemed churlish to point out that the $170m (£134m) in new aid that Mr Pompeo was bragging about giving Africa was almost certainly matched – or exceeded – by the donation of just one Chinese billionaire – Jack Ma.
The Global Times article boasted that China’s “solid political system” had underpinned its own success in countering Covid-19.
And then it went further. Surely now was the time, it argued, for African nations to end their failed experiment with western multi-party democracy – an experiment that had led to inequality, ethnic and religious divisions, violence, and “the destruction of lives and properties.”
Instead, Africa should follow China’s one-party-state path.
An article in China daily praised the “domino effect” of Beijing’s ambitious “Belt and Road Initiative” in Africa, a giant investment and infrastructure strategy that was accelerating the continent’s recovery “from centuries of slavery, colonialism, neo-colonial domination, and now Covid-19”.
Mr Pompeo’s answer to that was brusque. He said ‘China’s Communist Party was imposing “an enormous amount of debt… on African countries… on incredibly onerous terms that will impact African people for an awful long time”.
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