A Qualitative Analysis of Liberia- U.S,- China Triangular Relations and Its impacts on Development

By: Josephus Moses Gray |Paris, France/ Mobile (+33) 753467742/  Email: graymoses@yahoo.com |

Prof. J. Moses Gray

This analysis presents in-depth, insightful analysis of critical issues on the continent and beyond, such as, Africa in International Relations, the new scramble for the continent’s richer resources, and the core causes for poverty, corruption, bad governance and counter-terrorism in Africa. The deep political “love” towards African governments and states by the two global economic powers in recent time realism argues that it is it has made the continent the frontline competition for oil, and the two main competitors for Africa are U.S. and China.

Although the United Nations acceptable standard and international treaty prohibit a sovereign state from interfering in the internal affairs of another, prevailing issues in the context of security that affects one state’ interest, can compares a particular state to obliquely interfere in another state. Assistant Professor of International Relations at the University of Liberia Graduate School, Josephus Moses Gray offers insight into understanding of Liberia, U.S., China triangular Relations and its development impacts.

This has always been the cases of bigger powers. Therefore, one can conclude that the United Stets being aware that a non-interference approach concerning African natural resource affairs will give China due advantage in its engagement with African leaders, governments and states and the race to have influence over special interests in Africa.

This study provides a vivid picture of Liberia, U.S. and China’s triangular relations, a detailing of the three countries long standing bilateral relationship. It goes further to discuss few African states relations with China and the U.S. Both U.S. and China are the world’s two leading economic powers and are permanent members of the United Nations Security Council with veto and are competing actors on the international stage. In recent time the two countries have been engaged into a trade war; the current situation to gradually having an adverse effect on global trade. Nowadays power politics is mainly being driven by realism, although there is always conflict with liberalism which sees power from a contrary view. These two theories usually swayed world leaders in the areas of globalist and nationalist, depend on the prevailing situation that involves state’s national interest. But, this work considers mostly in structural realism which suggests that countries are formed a structure by their interactions and then being strongly affected by the structure their interactions have formed.

This studyis very essential to the entire work as it delved into triangular relations of the Republic of Liberia, the United States and the People’s Republic of China, especially when both the U.S. and China are caught in a deadlock of a trade war and protectionism. The question is can African take advantage of the trade war and maximizes its relations with both countries, and what does African need to do? The Chinese ties with African countries cannot be analyzed without the United States of America being brought into the debate as an overbearing variable regarding the bond of the friendship and cooperation. Similarly, the colorful Africa-U.S’. ties on one hand and China- African bond of exceptional friendship would be fractional if one does not take into consideration both states’ engagement with Africa’s entire five regions and 55 states.

The United States usually focus on good governance and democracy of petroleum producing countries in it diplomacy strategies. China, the world’s fastest growing economy, views Africa as a welcome divesting ground for its products in exchange for oil. An economic approach, both U.S. and China focus on expanding their commercial interests. The growing relations in the areas of trade and investment are often supported either by grants or concessional loans from the Chinese’s government, as part of the country’s “going global” strategy that promotes Beijing new engagement on several fronts on the African continent apparently due to China’s interest in African’s rich oil base to fuel its energy sectors and surging economy.

    Overview of Liberia, U.S. and China Triangular Relations

This work characterized the existing relationships among Liberia, China and the United States of America as “triangular”. The three countries sampled are known to be democratic states but run different forms of governments- both Liberia and the United States run a Republican form of government, while China, runs a socialist system of government.  both United States and China have been chosen for the purpose of this study because they are stable, and are the world’s economic powers. The two countries are actively engaged with African leaders, governments and states.  These two states have been selected because they depict and reflect an alteration in governance, resources and economic powers.

Since there are three sides interacting, the conduct of their apparent bilateral relations produces almost simultaneous effects among the three sides; it is against this background that Liberia, the first independence state in African is brought into the picture as the basis of this work since Liberia was founded by free slaves from America-the American Colonization Society (ACS) in 1847. Therefore, significant effort has been devoted by the researcher to the examination of these triangular relations involved Africa, America and China.

Even though there have been several publications, there is no such research work regarding triangular relations of the U.S., China and Liberia. Therefore, the researcher deems it very appropriate that these relations are put under investigation to contextualize the framework of triangular relations, as the basis to make informed findings since this involves an analysis of the almost simultaneous effects between Liberia, U.S. and China

It is appropriate because the United States and China’s relationship with Liberia is amazing and projects the much anticipated social, political, economic and culture dividends. The Liberian state negotiates with the two world’s economic powers to deals it deems beneficial relative to its national and strategic interests. Therefore, China and U.S’ triangular relations with Liberia and engagement with Africa is both an opportunity and an opportunist, and U.S. and China’s engagement in a resources rich country of Liberia is having a positive or negative political and economic impact. The two world’s economic powers are not different from other developing global powers, whose national interest is supreme in their engagements with Africa.

Following a critical studied of the organization of the entire study; one can argue that the prevailing political engagements and contacts between China and the African states, and the interactions with the U.S on the other hand are triangular relations, with African suited at the middle of the power politics and completion. Both U.S. and China need Africa but the question that comes out is: Does African understand the effect of China and U.S’. politics? But what the phrase: a triangular relation depicts? Ellis (2004) described that triangular relations are interactions among three states that produce complex processes of cooperation and conflicts among them.

The term “triangular relations” can suggest a new bond interrelating to Liberia, U.S. and China. “A “sphere of influence” can be best described then as a geographic region characterized by the high penetration of one superpower to the exclusion of other powers and particularly of the rival superpower” (Kaufman, 1976). According to Hast (2014), the “sphere of influence” has two main elements to it: “exclusion of other powers and limitation of the independence or sovereignty of the influenced state”. According to study, the concept of the “sphere of influence” recognizes a country that plays a significant role in influencing the alliances and bilateral relations that other countries in this region may have.

China went unrecognized for years by the United States. China was also barred from the United Nations by an American veto. Since Mao Zedong’s takeover in 1949, the United States had refused recognition to the communist government. Instead, the Americans pledged support to the Chinese Nationalist Government in Taiwan (Kissinger, 1996). China was blocked from admission to the United Nations by the American veto, and Taiwan held China’s seat on the Security Council.

A triangular relations involving America, china and Liberia is sampled with a multiple case study. Three countries America, China and Liberia which are focused in this work maintained triangle relations and are actively involved on the African continent.  Three sovereign states located in North America, West Africa, and Asia were sampled for a multiple case study; United States of America, People’s Republic of China and Republic of Liberia. America and China have been chosen because they are the world’s economic powers, and are stable and deemed as having great influence in Africa, engaging in several projects through foreign aid. The United States and China’s industries and factories need Africa’s rich oil and energy.

According OECD (2013) report, the best-known donors of foreign aid are governments, multilateral organizations, inter-governmental, non-governmental, not-for-profit organizations and charities. There are over twenty thousand of them, ranging from tiny grassroots outfits to venerable organizations, such as International Red Cross, Catholic Relief Services, Open Society Initiative, Red Cross, Doctors Without Borders, World Vision and Medicine Sane Frontiers.

These charities helped to gathering billions of dollars and thousands of staffers around the world. Some individuals, businesses and institutions also dispense foreign aid. According to OECD (2017), the U.S. foreign assistance includes loans, contracts, and grants and is categorized in the Green Book as either economic assistance or military assistance. U.S., but it does not include debt forgiveness. USAID (2017) accentuated that the Green Book is produced to fulfill a congressionally-mandated requirement and legislative authority for the report is the foreign assistance act of 1961.

However, significant change in the US-Africa relations has been the growing concern about terrorist activities on the continent, particularly in the Horn of Africa and the Sahel regions. The U.S. international fight against terrorism has impacted a significant change in US-Africa relations in recent time over the growing concern about terrorist’s activities on the continent, mainly in the Horn of Africa and the Sahel regions.

After decades of Cold War when Africa was simply viewed as a convenient pawn on the global chessboard, and a further decade of benign neglect in the 1960s, the African continent has now become a vital arena of strategic and geopolitical competition for not only the United States and China, but also for other economic powers, Russia, Great Britain, France, India,  and Japan as well as other new emerging powers. The main reason for this level of new interest for Africa is that the continent is the final frontier as far as the world’s supplies of oil and energy are concerned with global competition for both oil and natural gas becoming just as intense.

The development landscape in Africa is changing, with new partners from the global South taking on a more important role as providers of much needed finance and know-how for Africa’s development. China has been the most prominent emerging partner and Chinese entrepreneurs have increased their trade and investment relations with African counterparts by a factor of more than ten over the past decade. But the pool of actors has widened and Europe and Washington are no longer at ease. Africa new role in international politics regarding its ties with the United States, Britain, France, China, Russia, Japan, Canada, EU, IMF and  World Bank have in recent years have rapidly improved.

     China and America’s Rising Influence in Liberia

In international relations, power is clearly important in the relations between states but power can come in two forms, hard and soft, and what matters greatly is how it is exercised and the messages it sends. African is no exception, sometimes, hard power will be necessary, but its application must be wise. While soft power on the other hand can be more effective and provide better long-term returns to the greater user. The world two rivals powers-United States and China exercised hard and soft powers wisely; African leaders and governments should pay keen attention.

The phenomenon of China in the global arena is quite significant and it presents opportunities and challenges. But what is China so much in love with the continent and what is the most ultimate push behind Beijing’s new ties with Africa?   Beijing rising adore for Africa comes in several ways, first, there are trade opportunities as Chinese growth requires products that Africa can provide, provoking an intense, competitive contest between Beijing and Washington.

The United States, the long-standing dominance of its diplomatic ties with several African countries and its influence is nowadays being challenged by the rising global south. Africa is expected to be one of the fastest growing sources of oil supplies, but new oil discoveries and production on the continent, especially the Gulf of Guinea, made the continent more attractive in the eyes of global competing power.

Although much has been written and published wildly about the United States of America (USA) and the People’s Republic of China (PRC) new competing interests in Africa over the last decade, generally attempting to reflect positively, and present a scholarly analysis of the two countries rising interests toward African’s governments and sovereign states on the continent,  there is also enough in the broad narrative that is tendentious, and often hysterical and specious about the public perception of the world’s two (rivals) economic powers.

This work, which dipped into several international relations as relates the world’s two rivals economic powers’ rising interest in Africa is mainly focused on the two countries foreign aid assistance and investment in Liberia. It further discussed strategic importance nowadays China and U.S’. attached to their relations with African states and governments.

This research  similarly examines the positives and shortfalls of the world’s two rivals’ new diplomatic approaches towards Africa which many scholars argue are geared towards a win-win situation whilst others have different perspectives on China and USA new affection for African states and governments. By focusing on tangible factors as descriptive variables, the article aims to identify the underlying rationale of Beijing and Washington foreign policy and interest in Liberia and other African states. Considering my background, I tried to restrict myself from reaching definitely decision as to which one of the two countries, USA or China,  is most appreciated by Liberians, let the Liberian public make such determination.

This study is authored above personal feelings and emotion especially as one of the hundreds of Liberians that have been opportune to have profited from the governments of China and U.S. fellowships assistance to enroll at various highest academic institutions in both countries. I remained thankful to the two countries but very grateful to the government of France for greatly empowering me to enroll and complete my doctoral studies in International relations and foreign policy studies in Paris, France. As a courtesy, I respectfully joined the President of Liberia, His Excellency, Dr. George M. Weah to reiterate how France situated at the button of my heart.

The United States is Liberia’s traditional partner while China is Liberia’s strategic partner, both have maintained dynamic diplomatic missions and visible in Liberia regarding a noticeable diplomatic presence apropos of effectiveness and productivity, yet, the perception and misperception of Liberians, foreign capitalists and political bureaucrats towards China and USA present a hysterical and erroneous contradictory interpretation. Diplomatically, China and the United States use tools of soft and hard powers in different ways to their benefits and with varying effects.

This detailed analysis the advantage and disadvantage of China and USA rising interest in Africa and  further discusses strategic importance China and U.S. attached to their relations with Liberia on one hand and African states and governments on the other hand; it also gives other details of the numerous supports the two countries have rendered Liberia.  This article similarly examines the positives and shortfalls of Washington and Beijing’s new diplomatic approaches towards Africa. Considering my background, I will try to restrict myself from reaching fixed conclusion about which one of the two countries is most appreciated by Liberians;  let the Liberian public make the judgment.

As a reflection, one might ask: What diplomatic methodologies can President George Weah’s administration put into place to balance Liberian foreign policy and international relations with the two opposing world blocs- China and America? While at the same time to keep Weah’s regime on a positive standing with both countries without being considered as darling child of the other or noticed of playing second fiddle to one of the rival blocs/

This is a crucial question, since strategy depends on an accurate assessment of the capabilities and intentions of the two potential rivals. Significantly, the Weah’s government should play its cards very well, critically evaluate statements or speeches relating to Washington and Beijing to avoid diplomatic bad blood as well as any potential further problem that might serve as an obstacle. The Sino-Liberia and U.S. Liberia’s ties rapprochement will definitely help to create the unique conditions that led to the limited apprehensions, but contributed and propel the exiting relations to another levels of exceptionality for the government’s pro poor agenda; President Weah’s diplomatic displayed at the just-ended FOCAC Meeting desired commendation.

The United States is Liberia’s traditional partner while China is Liberia’s strategic partner, both maintained active diplomatic missions in Liberia, yet the perception and misperception of Liberians, foreign capitalists and political bureaucrats towards China and USA present a hysterical and erroneous contradictory interpretation; diplomatically, China and the United States use tools of soft and hard powers in different ways to their benefits.

Many experts argue that China‘s :soft power policies of non-interference, one-China policy and no political attached strings‘ have resonated so strongly among African countries including Liberia which have become so wearied of those sanctimonious clichés about democracy, human rights, and good governance being proposed by America.  For others political pundits  the competition between China and the United States for influence on the continent will go a long way. China views development and foreign aid as practical policy instruments to promote political friendship and economic cooperation, while the U.S. attaches clearly stated goals, stringent conditions, and strict criteria to its development programs.

According to Fuchang (2002), China is an ancient civilization with a history of more than 5,000 years, and has the biggest population in the world and is a country with a land of over 9.6 million square kilometers and a population of 56 ethnic groups of 1.3 billion people. In the composition of the population, people in the cities and towns make up 36.09% and that in the rural areas 63.91%. Regarding gender, the male population is about 50.8%, and the female population is about 49.2%. In terms of age, people 14 years or younger make up 35.7%, and those 65 or older carried 64.3%. The Han ethnic group makes up 91.59% of the national population, and other ethnic groups account for about 8.41%. The national language of China is Putonghua which is used by the largest number of Chinese, but many of the 55 ethnic minorities have their own languages ( Yang Fuchang, 2002).

China is divided into 23 provinces, five autonomous regions, four municipalities directly under the Central Government, and two administrative regions. China has 668 cities at different levels of administrative division. Beijing is the capital city with a history of 3,000 years and has served as a capital for more than 800 years. The city is full of historic interest and science beauty, the city retains its alluring fascination of an ancient capital (Yang Fuchang, 2002).  China is classed “one country, two systems”, people from the various sectors in Macao have united as one, two system. Life expectancy is such a sensitive indicator or overall social condition because it sums up in a single figure all positive including rising living standards, good education, good health care, environmental protection and negative including poverty, lack of education, poor health care, pollution trends.  From a critical analysis, one can conclude that China’s life expectancy is better than would be expected purely from its economic development.

The country’s motto was “Crossing the river by feeling the stones,” denoting partial reforms in an experimental manner, often starting in a few regions, and expanding them upon proven success. Other publications, under different authors, disclosed that another strategy was a means to find solutions suitable to China, experimentation, and gradualism was a means to circumvent political resistance against reforms. The successful China reform goes with a painful decision and hard work especially instituting several actions that focused on policy implementation and enforcement since any law that lacks enforcement action is considered a dead law.

China has accomplished what took developed countries hundreds of years to accomplish and become an upper-middle-income country from a low-income one. China has overcome the great divergence of development among different countries formed after the first industrial revolution and made a miraculous economic catch-up from behind.  In the past, China was listed among the poorest nations on earth, and the state was blemished by the failure of the Great Leap Forward and the political disorders during the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution.  The country integration into the global economy was trifling, its industry was ineffective. Nowadays, China has become the world’s second economic power in decade or two, to the bewilderment of many economists and political scientists, and thanks mainly to four dynamics factors.

China’s remarkable jump has been made from an impoverished society which only depended on sufficient food and clothing to a flourishing society in the world. The state now plays a better role in the international arena due to its improved socio-economic situation.  China to build a moderately prosperous society in all respects, and those profound changes have taken place over the past seven decades as China has become the second-largest economy.

As the Chinese people celebrate their seven decades of reforms and opening up characterized by growth and socio-economic development, others under-developed nations need to see China’s great transformation as a wake-up call to transform their economies and political policies by initiating their own development path different from the outdated philosophy of hegemony, and always stick to peaceful development.  China has successfully expanded beyond its border ushering a new era of industrialization, and record-breaking socio-economic development. The state is also credited for its successful strategic approach towards the establishment of diplomatic ties and cooperation with hundreds of sovereign states, governments, and people across the globe.

China made much headway in socio-economic development. In 1949, most than a half-century ago, the birth of new China opened up a new chapter in world politics, as far as international relations is concerned. The people were defined as a coalition of four social classes: the workers, the peasants, the petite bourgeoisie, and the national-capitalists. The four classes were to be led by the CCP, as the vanguard of the working class. At that time the CCP claimed a membership of 4.5 million, of which members of peasant origin accounted for nearly 90 percent. The party was under Mao’s chairmanship, and the government was headed by Zhou Enlai as the premier minister of the State Administrative Council (the predecessor of the State Council).

The former head of the Communist People’s Party, Chairman Mao Zedong on October 1, 1949 made these remarks: “The Chinese people have stood up to announce the creation of a “People’s Democratic state”; even though China is a socialist democracy, the leadership of the Communist Party of China (CPC) has kept to the socialist path of making democratic political progress with Chinese features.  The Chinese socialist democracy plays a decisive, comprehensive, and far-reaching role in the country’s national political dealing. President Xi Jinping is the country’s most powerful leader.

President Xi Jinping (2017) publication pinpointed that blindly copying the political system of other countries will never work in China, and never follow others without trying to understand them properly. He reiterated that only a system deeply-rooted and fully cherished in our own soil is trustworthy and will serve our purposes, stressing that all countries differ in realities, each country is unique in its political system, which is determined by its people and has been developed and gradually refined over a long period of time on the basis of their historical heritage, cultural traditions, and social and economic development.

The Chinese-nation cannot be judged without reference to its past history and amazing transformation, especially the country economic, social, cultural and political conditions that work to adjust political relations, establish political order, accelerate national development, and maintain national stability; keeping to the long-established track of historical heritage, cherishing the Chinese path to effect development, rather than breaking with history. The realities of the Chinese amazing transformation are visible on the Chinese soil, they are hardworking, they have the energies and demeanors towards jobs, and they accept challenges and believe in the Chinese spirit and characteristics. The best way to evaluate whether a country’s political system is democratic and efficient is to observe whether the succession of its leading body is orderly and in conformity with the law and political respectability, decision-making system, how officials are appointed, dismissed, replaced and how power can be kept under effective restraint and supervision.

The People’s Republic of China’s transformation from a poor and backward nation into a modernized and prosperous one is proven to be an amazing achievement in human history of tackling poverty and providing a valuable experience for other nations. China not only is an important driving force of global economic growth but also makes a significant contribution to maintaining world peace and stability as well as promoting interconnectivity between countries and regions.  The Chinese government has captured the attention of many countries due primarily to Beijing’s reasonable approaches towards development, and the ways in which the government practices “win-win“ diplomacy This style has featured greater accommodations with several countries.

Unlike the Western donors who tend to impose Western values like democratic ideas on Africa, China invests and provides aid without much preconditions and interference in their internal affairs, therefore, it is not unimaginable that China is regarded by Africa as a more cooperative and valuable partner to the West. Besides providing loans, China also invests in infrastructure development and many high-visibility projects, that the African leaders generally in favor. Physical infrastructure constructions have been long neglected if not avoided, by Western donors.

China has been steadily increasing its official finance investments in other countries, but these flows are less concessional than that of other large players like the US. The US dwarfs China in official development assistance, but the two countries have similarly sized official finance portfolios overall between 2000 and 2014. Seven of the top 10 recipients of Chinese “aid” (ODA) were in Africa, but its other official flows (OOF) are more geographically dispersed.  In his recent publication, The Governance of China, President Xi Jinping disclosed that from 1950 to 2016, China provided foreign countries with over RMB400 billion in aid, and will continue to increase assistance. He further explained that President Xi China has contributed on average over 30 percent of global growth each year and revealed that in the coming years, China is expected to import US$8 trillion worth of goods, attract US$600 billion in foreign investment, and made US$750 billion in outbound investment.

The first top ten African States that received Chinese financial assistance are Angola ($13.4 billion), Cote d’Ivoire ($4.0 billion), Ethiopia ($3.7 billion),  Zimbabwe ($3.6 billion), Cameroon ($3.4 billion),  Nigeria ($3.1 billion),  Tanzania ($3.0 billion), Ghana ($2.5 billion (Samantha, 2018). The world top recipients of Chinese assistance are   Russia ($36.6 billion), Pakistan ($16.3 billion), Angola ($13.4 billion), Laos ($11.0 billion), Venezuela ($10.8 billion), Turkmenistan ($10.1 billion),  Ecuador ($9.7 billion), Brazil ($8.5 billion), Sri Lanka ($8.2 billion),  Kazakstan ($6.7 billion) and Cuba ($6.7 billion).

According to global data (2017), drawing on several novel sources of data and analysis in 126 countries on US$354 billion in Chinese official finance investments.  However, another interpretation could be that China is a relatively young donor and is just getting started.  In Africa, the US still had a strong influence edge over China with leaders in sub-Saharan Africa but is falling behind in the Middle East and North Africa. The US surpasses China’s influence in several policy areas: governance, social, environmental policy among them.

The National Bureau of Statistics of China discloses that the country’s industrial output in 2018 expanded to 6.8%, while fresh data also showed that China’s GDP rose to 80 trillion yuan, which is estimated at 12.3 trillion US dollars.  In a short period of time, over 13 million jobs were created, while more than 700 million of which 10 million are rural residents were lifted out of poverty which amounted to over 70 percent global poverty reduction.

In the area of traditional diplomacy, Beijing maintains a diplomatic relationship with 54 of the 55 African states, and that Africa is the largest overseas destination for Chinese investors and visitors. Further figures from the National Bureau of Statistics; show that China’s GDP has averaged a yearly growth rate of about 9.5 percent. While in terms of foreign trade, China has registered a yearly growth of over 14.5 percent in U.S. dollars. In the last 10 years, with China’s strength in the workforce, capital, market and technology, the nation, on average, contributed 30 percent of the global economic growth yearly, sharing the benefits of China’s development with the world.

Similarly, the country’s share in the global economic growth rose from 2.7 to 16 percent; its per-capita GDP exceeded US$800 in 2017. China is the first developing country to meet the Millennium Development Goals set by the United Nations in terms of poverty reduction; it has backed up this proposal with a fund of US$60 billion for major capital projects, which researchers believed are tied to developing locals’ economic capacity, and geared towards a win-win cooperation to be sustainable. Setting a textbook-like example in the world economic history, China has greatly enhanced the confidence of underdeveloped countries to shake off poverty and catch up with the world.  China has established close relations with global partners through its openness and the aspiration to embrace the world. Under the non-alignment principle, China made friends with the world and opened its doors for construction.

It established various partnerships with over 100 countries and international organizations and is committed to building equal and balanced partnerships for global development as well as creating common development opportunities and space. President Xi noted that over the past 40 years, China’s trade in goods has increased 198 fold, and trade in services 147 fold. It has attracted investment totaling $2 trillion, becoming the world’s largest trader of goods, the largest tourism market, and a major trading partner of over 130 countries.

The joint construction of the Belt and Road Initiative promotes interconnectivity among countries, as a result of which a pattern of interconnected development has been formed, while China has gained rich experiences in human development by focusing on development and the welfare of the people.  Accordingly, Chinese industries are not only getting closer to the technological frontier in conventional areas such as electronics, machinery, automobiles, high-speed railways and aviation but also driving technological innovations in emerging areas.

Technological innovation is intrinsically about capturing a new phenomenon through the identification or the creation of new combinations of component technologies. Improvements in the structure, design, or method of an existing technology that delivers a better performance are called incremental innovations. According to an article published by a China researcher, Prof. Hung Ho, China’s has attracted not only many of the best technologies, but also many of the best scientific and technological talents globally, while the Wall Street Journal, citing “executives at Chinese and Western companies,” put it, “China’s technology sector is reaching a critical mass of expertise, talent and financial firepower that could realign the power structure of the global technology industry in the years ahead.”

In addition, in searching for the best supply chain capability to commercialize innovations, high-tech industries increasingly look to China for manufacturing solutions, a kind of complementary innovation. Apple’s products are typical examples. China’s internal market, now with 1.4 billion consumers and a per capita income of $8,000+ is also a blessing to innovation in many ways. The huge market size promises sufficient return to cover the costs of either acquiring foreign technology or undertaking a cumulative learning process to catch up with frontier foreign technologies, Prof. Hung Ho asserted.

The Chinese tradition of emphasizing education is also crucially important for its technological rise. Globally, China has the highest number of students studying overseas and the ratio of these students returning to China has been increasing. China’s recent phenomenal achievements in science and technology show exactly the contrary. Infrastructure and basic industries used to be a major bottleneck in China’s economic development.

Over the past 70 years, China has increased investment in the construction of base industries and infrastructure, such as energy, transportation, and telecommunication, and remarkable achievement has been made in this regard. Nowadays, China has become the second-largest energy producer in the world, next only to the United States of America. The total self-sufficient rate of energy is 90 percent in China, the statistics from the Chinese Bureau of Statistics have revealed.    The country has over the past 60 years greatly enhanced its transportation capacity, with railways, highways, airports, and ports built one after another. The length of railway lines in service increased from 21,800 km in 1949 to 120,000 km in 2018.

According to a global index report, China conducted economic and cultural exchanges with over 220 countries and regions in the world. China today opens wider to the outside world and has become a major trading power in the world today. China has been actively participating in international competition and economic cooperation, increasing investment in overseas projects.  In the 21st century, the pace of socio-economic development quickens the pace in China. Great progress has been made in educational undertakings, with the educational popularization rate and the level of education approaching the average of medium-income countries.  Further statistics show that in the early 1950s, illiterates and semi-illiterates made up over 60 percent of the total population of China. In 2007, the gross attendance rate of schools of higher learning, high schools, middle schools, and primary schools reached 99.5 from 23.5 percent, the report has said.

According to Jinglian Wu (2007), the major Reform Steps in China 1978-2017 are captured under different eras and summarized: In 1979 Open door” policy initiated, foreign trade and investment reforms begin; law on Joint Venture Companies passed, in 1980 the state established a policy of eating from Separate Kitchens” reforms in intergovernmental fiscal relations, while in 1999 government reforms consolidate industry-related ministries and institutes and 1978 the former president Deng Xiaoping’s speech at the Central Party Work Conference “Emancipate the Mind, Seek Truth from Facts and Unite as One in Looking to the Future”. Deng Xiaoping’s push for ‘reform and opening up’ launched China’s rise from the wreckage of the Cultural Revolution to the world’s second-biggest economy.

Other periods include 1993 decision of the third plenum of the 14th party congress to establish a “socialist market economy” paving way for fiscal, financial, SOE reforms, 2001 launching of the 10th five year plan emphasizes efficiency, structural change, industrial upgrading, 2013 12th Five Year Plan launched, emphasizing rebalancing and avoiding middle income trap and 16 point program introduced to fight inflation,  the 2016 13th Five Year Plan Launched emphasizing innovation and productivity as drivers of growth and the 2017 19th Party Congress defines “New Era” and China’s new long term goals for Modernization

One of the most outstanding aspects of China’s efficacious strategies is, without doubt, the invention of practical policy regarding the approach to trade. Er-Rafia (2018) explained that the number of China’s largest companies in the world has been growing steadily and Incontestably, Chinese companies invade their domestic market from the outset with economies of scale, since the Chinese market itself is gigantic, something that a Western company cannot afford to do at home from the beginning. A Chinese company that is emerging nationally is already a strong company having won a victory over its competitors.  According to Er-Rafia, the Chinese company’s presence in the local market disturbs international competition and attracts Western companies that propose commercial agreements. Given the massive size of the untapped Chinese market, these companies compete easily (to a certain extent) in the global market. Reforms in China developed gradually, starting in rural areas with the household responsibility system and township and village enterprises.

For others, the credit first goes to former President Deng Xiaoping’s opening-up-to-the-world policies and the 1979 Equity Joint Venture Law, together the state has allowed foreign capital and Western companies to enter China, transforming the domestic economic landscape entirely from one that was outmoded and old-fashioned to one that is dynamic and contemporary. The second dynamic can be attributed to the State Strategy instituted over a period of time and importantly outlined in the various five-year plans.  According to several publications, this strategy has led to the gradual flourishing of the Chinese economy and that of some industries targeted by the State in the five-year plans. Steps to open the economy to foreign trade and investment only started to play a significant role in the 1990s. The financial sector and State-Owned Enterprises (SOE) reform were also gradual, gaining momentum only in the mid‐1990s.

The third factor is China’s most precious treasure, its hard-working labor force which is estimated to be 800 million, has allowed China to become the world’s factory in the past three decades. A broader strategy emerged only in 1993, with the Decisions of the 3rd Plenum of the 14th Central Committee.  Decentralization or regionalization of state authority became a powerful tool in China’s reformed, the various provinces and local governments received increasing authority over investment approvals, fiscal resources, and policies.  Zhong Sheng (2018) disclosed that the provinces, municipalities and even counties were allowed, even encouraged, to experiment with reforms.

Another key area of China’s remarkable transformation is the fiscal system and the political organizations that are grounded within the Communist Party were key in aligning regional government incentives. The benefits of reforms were distributed broadly across the population and governments, creating strong incentives to pursue growth and promote a market economy.  In the practicality of the reforms, the authorities were also able to mature and test the managerial processes and harmonizing policies needed to implement the reforms. In this case, success meant the experiment was geared for expansion to other regions and sectors across the country. While successful experiments became official policy and were quickly adopted throughout the country, and by decentralizing, authorities turned the country into a laboratory for reforms.

China and Africa Exploration and Development paths

In contemporary history, China and Africa shared similar experiences, both having suffered from aggression, plunder and enslavement by colonialists. Therefore, the Chinese people and the people of Africa have all along rendered each other solidarity and support and shared weal and woe in their struggles against imperialism and for national independence and liberation. China and Africa have shared historic facts-China is the world faster developing economic and holds the world largest population, while Africa is host of abundant rich natural resources,  brilliant cultures, hard-working, talented and courageous people and significant contributor to the advancement of human civilization and world development(China-Africa Think Tanks, 2018).

Africa is one of the cradles of mankind. From the early days of the rise of pan-Africanism in the 20th century to the formation of the Organization of African Unity in 1963 which now gives birth to the African Union (AU) in 2002 in Libya, the African continent seeks strength through harmony and accomplishing renaissance of civilization, has long been a cherished aspiration of the African people.  The people of Africa have made great efforts on the path of a united front through unity, thus leaving behind glorious pages of success and notable endeavors.

Africa must firmly uphold the road to peace, solidity and socio-economic development; Africa cannot achieve peace and development in isolation from the world, and the world needs Africa for stability and prosperity, and Africa needs the world (China-Africa Think Tanks, 2018.   The world should assist in a peaceful, stable and constantly developing Africa is a blessing for the world. In a land that has gone through so many wars and conflicts, where communities and homes have been broken down where the youthful population seeks socio economic development and human development, the world should pay key attention to Africa’s economic plead for help which calls for our extra care.

Let be provide a little clear balance of China-African long standing relationship which has been a win-win situation.   China is the largest developing country in the world and Africa is the continent with the largest number of developing countries. China and Africa are faced with both historical opportunities for greater development and unprecedented challenges that without doubts are turning into prospects for both countries and peoples.

Despite the vast oceans that separate China and Africa, the friendship between China and Africa remained unquestionable, dated back to ancient times and transcended both time and space. Communication and indirect trade between China and Africa started as early as over 3000 years ago. By the 6th century, China and Africa already had direct contacts via sea route. According to pages of history, in the 15th century, Zheng He, the well-known Chinese navigator of that time, led fleets to the east coast of Africa for four times, and visited places in Somalia and Kenya of today(China-Africa Think Tanks, 2018. Even now, the remnants of the crew of Chinese fleets can still be found in Kenya.

In 2002, the copy of a Chinese map entitled “Da Ming Hun Yi Tu”, which dates back to the year of 1389 and is identified as the earliest map indicating the outline of the whole African continent in the world, made a stir in South Africa, when it was displayed as part of the Parliamentary Millennium Project exhibition in Parliament of South Africa. It proves that the contact between Chinese and Africans predates the European “discovery” of the African continent by over 100 years and China was the first country that established contacts with Africa.

In 1949, the birth of new China opened up a new chapter in Sino-African relations. Since 1950s and 1960s, as more and more African countries won independence and  established diplomatic relations with China, the Sino-African relationship was ushered into a new era of all-round development that is having great impacts on the lives of millions on both fronts; the presence of China in Africa’s development cannot be questioned, China is visible on the continued march as evident by the hundreds of projects undertaking or completed, while new agreements have been consolidated for an effective implementation(Heritage Newspaper, 2018).

There is an old Chinese saying, it is better to teach somebody how to fish than simply give him the fish. In order to help African countries to enhance their ability of capacity building, and development to enhance economic growth, the forthcoming FOCAC in September should make human resource development the focal point of its follow-up actions.

Former President Johnson-Sirleaf(2011) explained that Africa is not poor; it is poorly managed”. Conflicts and crises such as civil strife have affected governance in Africa as well as the establishment of sustainable growth performance. Although some countries have recovered from civil wars, good governance remains a challenge. This includes boosting national capacity to avoid crises in governance, maintaining good internal relationship and peace building, as well as reinforcement of issues regarding national security reducing and crime.     In Africa poor governance has led to poor economic growth and it is manifested through corruption, political instability, ineffective rule of laws and institutions. Some African countries went through governance failures and corruption at some point in time, but their governance capacity made them recover and ensure the maintenance of rapid growth performance through constant demands to improve government and reduce corruption. In many African countries, corruption takes place as a rule based for decisions(New Dawn Newspaper, 2018).

That is, public officials influence the economic decision in detriment of the entire society. This results in inefficiency and high transaction costs as well as distortion of transparent and normal market operations and thus, creating insecurity for investors.  Corruption takes place when public officials break the laws to fulfill their own interest. The most common types of corruption are bribery and extortion as well as the allocation of public resources to favor political benefits.

In most cases the African leaders try to run the country by copying the modern western state systems at domestic level and neglect the tradition and culture of their own people. The leadership in most African countries is centralized, thus, the local government does not have the power and authority to take any decision. Therefore, it hinders efficient the capacity of the local administrations.   Due to rampant corruption, African children do not have access to quality education which is required to let them gain knowledge and skills, to equip them to have better ideas and opportunities for employment. Other correlated problems as well, for example, lack of skills and strong policies, and that is low economic performance with high inflation.

The ruling class in Africa many a times pleads ignorance of the fact that they are in power in order to be of service to the citizens and not vice versa; they exploit their positions to put as much public money as they can in their pockets and even get away with it(New Dawn Newspaper, 2018). Unfortunately, most African countries have come to recognize corruption as a normal occurrence and often see it as a means to an end.  In 1999 the United Nations approximated that the ruling elites drained more than 250 billion dollars out of Africa each year in their private over sea back accounts in Europe where they have invested their ill-gotten gains and wealth stolen from their motherland. Africa continues to be poor because politics is considered an easy ticket to prosperity, to add to that the leadership has no continuity agenda and opt for dying in office, being some of the richest people in the world amidst the most poverty-stricken citizens in the world.

In this day and age corruption and bad leadership and corruption are killing Africa’s progress while the greater number of the continent’s population lives on less than United States One dollar a day. The population in most cases is suppressed by their leaders, the autocratic means that keep these corrupt political bureaucrats in the hands of power. Again, abject poverty and rampant corruption served as major obstacles to growth and development on the continent; with on the other hand gross human rights violations, injustices, disrespect for rule of law and order, misused of national resources and state wealth by autocrats and corrupt leaders and their families and friends, dishonest bureaucrats, foreign capitalists and the lack of proper democracy, are some of the problems responsible for the continent’s backwardness in the context of growth and development( New Era Publication, 2018).

Governance has increasingly become a major instrument for the successful growth performance and development purposes in the world. The government does not provide an efficient institutional framework to sustain good governance, transparency and accountability of its institutions. In many African countries, weak institutions do not secure the required long run sustainable growth. However, many African leaders are contented with a short term solution that imposes a long term cost to the nation.

China and Africa have since then become all-weather friends that understand, support and help each other. Fifty-one of the continent’s fifty-three countries have established diplomatic ties with China thus far, the most recent being South Sudan in 2011. China’s relations with Africa should adhere to the principles of good governance which include sincerity, inclusiveness, respect for the rule of law, practical results, affinity and good faith and uphold the values of friendship, justice and shared interests. New Era(2018) reported that China and Africa “have always belonged to a community of shared values and fruitful future” and “have always been good friends who stand together through thick and thin, good partners who share weal and woe, and good brothers who fully trust each other despite changes in the international landscape.

China’s unwavering policy towards Africa of non-interference in other nations’ internal affairs nor dictates to Africa to swallow the bitter pills of forced submission or risk the imposition of sanction or a blockage to aid. Nowadays, China remains a shining and deeply admired posture in the realm of mutual respect for others to be master of their own destiny and captain of their own future. Indeed, that praiseworthy.

But can China’s involvement serve as a hope for Africa socio-economic development?  China provides an alternative political-economic framework for Africa while China in return stands to also benefit. Today, dozens of scholars have viewed China’s recent involvement in Africa as that of a development partner. Their basis of argument is that China’s presence presents an opportunity for development and economic growth, by providing aid to poverty-stricken and marginalized countries like my country The New Era in its 2018 report revealed that Liberia has helped to provide visible development assistance such as infrastructural, debt cancellation,  scholarships, constructions of roads and bridges and provisions and support to health delivery and education systems.

China has a major diplomatic presence in Africa. In fact, Beijing is more widely represented in Africa with missions on the ground than is the United States. Beijing, which has diplomatic relations with Fifty-one continent’s fifty-three countries, maintains an embassy with an accredited ambassador in 48 of them. China maintains offices of a commercial counselor in 40 of those countries and seven consulates general in five of them.

China and Africa have shared comprehensive consensus on major international issues, common interests and a willingness to deepen their cooperation. The rapid development of the Sino-Africa relationship reveals on-going transitions that facilitate the move towards a new strategic partnership. Heritage (2018) disclosed that China also emphasizes the notion of “respect” for African countries, embodied in its policy of noninterference in the domestic affairs of sovereign countries and in an approach to conflict resolution on the continent that is seen as much less confrontational as Western interventions. Unlike the Western donors who tend to impose Western values like democratic ideas on Africa, China invest and provide aid without much preconditions and interference in their internal affairs, therefore, it is not unimaginable that China is regarded by Africa as a more cooperative and valuable partner to the West.

Authored by Josephus Moses Gray, Assistant Professor of International Relations and Foreign Policy Studies at the University of Liberia Graduate School of International Studies, Monrovia, Liberia. Contact (Monrovia) (231) 880330299/ Paris, France/ Mobile (+33) 753467742/ Email:graymoses@yahoo.com

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About Cholo Brooks 13973 Articles
Joel Cholo Brooks is a Liberian journalist who previously worked for several international news outlets including the BBC African Service. He is the CEO of the Global News Network which publishes two local weeklies, The Star and The GNN-Liberia Newspapers. He is a member of the Press Union Of Liberia (PUL) since 1986, and several other international organizations of journalists, and is currently contributing to the South Africa Broadcasting Corporation as Liberia Correspondent.