Racing With National Objectives: The Impact of China and America in Contemporary Liberia

By: Josephus Moses Gray, Ph. D

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. Distance from our ways of thinking does not always translate into the required distance from our habitual ways of living. 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, depending on the prevailing situation that involves state’s national interest. But, this work considers mostly in structural realism which suggests that countries are formed as structure by their interactions, and then being strongly affected positively or negatively by the structure their interactions have formed. 

Although the United Nations’ acceptable standard coupled with international treaty prohibits a sovereign state from interfering in the internal affairs of another, prevailing issues in the context of security that affects one state’s interest, can compare a particular state to obliquely interfere in another state.  The Dean of Prof Amos C. Sawyer College of Social Sciences and Humanities, Dr. Josephus Moses Gray offers insight into the understanding of Liberia-U.S.-China’s contemporary relations and its development impacts on Liberia’s social economic development. The major goal of states in any relationship is not to attain the highest individual possible gain, instead, the fundamental goal of states in any relationship is to prevent others from achieving advances in their relative capabilities.

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 governments and sovereign states on the continent, particularly Liberia. This article also considers the optimism and pessimism of U.S. and Liberia’s new level of strategic partnership. 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 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 in a certificate and diploma program. 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 is situated at the button of my heart.

Liberia 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. Diplomatically, China and the United States use tools of soft and hard powers in different ways to their benefits and with varying effects. 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.

There are hundreds of definitions but for the purpose of this study, foreign aid is money, materials, and services given or loaned by governments, organizations, and individuals in developed countries to help people in developing countries, while aid flows through several key conduits. For others, it is referred to as development assistance, international aid, economic aid, or, foreign aid but it is different from military aid (OECD, 2013).     According to Source, the most basic definition of foreign aid is resources given from one developed state to another especially under-developed state.  In a broad sense it’s regularly understood to mean money, food, materials, goods and manpower given by governments, organizations, and individuals in rich countries to help people of under-developed or poor countries. There are different types of foreign aid and distinct providers of aid. However, the two populace ones are known to be bilateral aid and multilateral foreign aid. Fortunately, many countries that once received lots of foreign aid, such as South Korea, have weaned themselves off from foreign aid.

This work emphasizes that America and China’s foreign aid to Africa was once intended for a win-win benefit for all sides involved in the triangular relations, but due to China and America’s competing interests for Africa, foreign aid from the world’s economic powers has changed to a political and economic weapon purely used for the two countries common benefit. Several researches have showed that China’s foreign aid to African states and governments is to give Beijing due advantage for oil and other natural resources. While for the U.S., the foreign aid   assistance helped to place the U.S. in advance position to project its national interest, at the same time to give the country’s leverages to influence political and economic situations in Africa.

The phenomenon of China and United States 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 Washington and Beijing’s new ties with Africa?   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 with deep interest in the Russian-Ukraine war.

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. On the other hand, 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.

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 US’ attached to their relations with African states and governments. The article meticulously compared each regime’s foreign relations and intricacies in the context of national development, socio-economic growth and the political impacts on the Liberian society, providing a vivid picture of Liberia and U.S. friendship and the long-standing bilateral relationship.

This detailed analysis 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.  It also provides a vivid picture of Liberia, U.S. and China’s contemporary relations, a detailing of the three countries long standing bilateral relationship.

In a typical Liberian adage, it is stated that it is on old mat that one plaits new mats meaning in the governance system wherein one leader takes over from another, it is expedient to observe the works of the previous leader in order to carve yours as successor in the task of leadership regarding nation-building.

The U.S.-Liberia relationship dates back nearly 200 years and is stronger than ever as both countries continue working together on several fronts. The United States recognized the Republic of Liberia on September 23, 1862, when the American Minister to England Charles F. Adams was empowered to conclude a treaty of commerce and navigation with the Republic of Liberia 15 years after its establishment as a sovereign nation, and the two nations shared very close diplomatic ties (Foreign Ministry, 2009).

The treaty was signed by Adams and the President of Liberia on October 25, 1862. Both countries belong to a number of the same international organizations, including the United Nations, International Monetary Fund, World Bank and World Trade organization. The Liberian state originated in 1822 when the American Colonization Society founded a settlement for freedmen and recaptured slaves. In 1847 the settlement constituted itself as a republic and subsequently was recognized by several European states (Foreign Ministry, 2009). Britain was the first to recognize Liberia’s independence.

According to New York Times (1962) edition, former President Abraham Lincoln in his message to the present Congress stated:  If there was any good reason why the independence of Haiti and Liberia should not be recognized by the United States, he was not aware of it. President Lincoln noted that: On the contrary, there are many very good reasons why it should be recognized, and hence we are very glad that the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations has brought in a bill for the appointment of diplomatic representatives to these republics.

The United States usually focuses on good governance and democracy of petroleum producing countries in its diplomatic strategies. Whereas, China, the world’s fastest growing economy, views Africa as a welcome unique ground for its products in exchange for riches. An economic approach, both U.S. and China focused 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 Government of China as part of the country’s “going global” strategy that promotes Beijing’s 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

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.

The Chinese and Liberian nations cannot be judged without reference to their past histories and current status regarding their economics, 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 path to effect development, rather than breaking with history.

The people of China and Liberia 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. July 26th each year marks the independence of the Liberian-state, with Liberia currently stands at 171-year old, while October 1st every year marks the Anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China, the country turns 70 this year.

The founding father of Liberian-nation is Joseph Jenkins Roberts, its first president, while Chairman Mao Zedong if the founding father of China. Both countries have experienced to imperialism and colonialism; Liberia is 101 years old then China but China has made a remarkable transformations and growth, surpassed other industrial nations and become the world’s second economic power.

China is a state with a land of over 9.6 million square kilometers and a population of 56 ethnic groups of 1.4 billion people (Yang Fuchang, 2002, while Liberia is a state with 42 thousand square miles, 16 ethnic groups of 4 million populations(MOFA, 2010). China has an ageing population of 64.3%, while Liberia has a youngest population of 54%. In both states, more people reside in the rule parts than urban areas.

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).

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.

The Chinese government has captured the attention of many African countries due primarily to Beijing’s reasonable approaches to diplomacy, and the ways in which the Chinese government practices a win-win diplomacy and is foreign aid’s policy. Beijing’s “win-win” diplomatic style has featured greater accommodations with several African countries including Liberia. Chinese government growing popularity is due to the soft power approach in the region and the speed of which it response to developmental requests by unpunished countries like Liberia.

However, the United States is Liberia traditional partner. The increasing presence of China in Africa has drawn a lot of controversy and strong criticism among some Western countries, which perceive Chinese foreign policy for Africa as a growing threat to their own interests. It is increasingly evident that Chinese economic involvement in several African countries has forced the traditional African partners, particularly Europe and the U.S., to reassess its strategic political cooperation with the continent. The Chinese government’s “soft power” global influence attained through diplomatic, economic, cultural, and other non-coercive means has grown along with its international standing. While in other parts of Africa, Chinese companies are muscling their way into countries by “under-cutting” western competition through its attractive “gifts” of development aid and “non-interference”.

On a general level, the growing profile of China in Africa reached a significant milestone in 2006, when 41 African Heads of State were hosted by the Chinese leadership to a Forum for China-Africa Co-operation (FOCAC), a forum in Beijing. Therefore, taking into account China’s influence on the continent, in recent years the U.S. has shown a growing interest in Africa in order to ensure access to energy resources, gain a Geo-strategic position and political influence in African countries, using several strategies and tactics to achieve its objectives.

Let me quote the words of President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf of Liberia: “Africa is not poor; it is poorly managed”. She made the statement in August 2009 during her interview with the BBC. But President Johnson-Sirleaf 2009 statement is appeared to be hunting her administration; with the massive public outcry in Liberia of rampant corruption in the Three Branches of government with the Legislature and judicial at the top of the index of corruption in Liberia. Corruption in government is at all-time high. It is on everyone’s lips in the country.

Corruption was the reason for the April 12, 1980 bloody coup of the late president William R. Tolbert’s government, followed by the public execution of the 13 high ranking public officials. The executions, many believe was a direct result for the 14-year bloodbath in the country which claimed over 250,000 lives and destroyed billion dollars’ worth of properties and also displaced quarter a million Liberians. The mismanagement of resources by the government, which has left hurt feelings of being marginalized among mainly poor and under-represented Liberians, when it comes to unfettered distribution of wealth, is back on the block.  Africa is very rich with natural resources such as fertile soil, enough rain and sunshine for cultivation, raw materials, oil, gold and many other major resources, but corruption and bad governances as well as  lack ways of exploiting Africa’s resources.

As the United States continues to debate the merits of aid to Liberia, China will continue to fill a major gap in several areas of interventions. While it is too early to predict precisely whether Chinese long-term rendezvous in Liberia will produce a positive influence, the impact of China in the country is highly visible in several developmental areas including roads rehabilitations, constructions of bridges, hospitals, schools, sports stadium, agriculture facilities, and investments projects. All of these projects create opportunities for the current administration to fulfill the hopes and aspirations of the people.

The Chinese economic interests goes beyond Liberia, Angola, and Sudan to Africa’s major rich richer states such as Nigeria and Angola, thereby focusing on establishing stronger trading and economic ties with petroleum producing states by following a policy of mercantilism, while oil companies, which are under strict government control, seek to sign equity deals with oil companies and obtain a stake in the local oil industry.

This work delves into the impact of foreign aid on post-conflict Liberia’s socio-economic development and looks deep into how Liberia has made used of aid in its post conflict recovery program, to positively impact national development. Besides, it also seeks to determine how funds and knowledge are transmitted to Liberia and interaction between recipients and donors with respect to the processes of foreign aid on the country’s socio-economic recovery and development program. It further analyzes how aid is being delivered and managed at sectorial level with particular focus on mutual accountability and results attainment.  The flow of foreign aid to Liberia has been a subject of discussion especially following the notorious war and its aftermath.

However, on the critical issue of triangular relations regarding U.S., China and Liberia, political pundits and academics consider the two big economic powers’ aid as not all about just resources, but to undercut one another’s existence on the African continent, and gain influence over the other. Academics see both U.S. and China’s foreign aid to African governments, nations and states purely based on several factors and such factors include domination, security, fight against terrorism and respect for “one China policy. Several researches have shown that China’s foreign aid to African states and governments is to give Beijing due advantage for oil and other natural resources. While for the U.S., the foreign aid   assistance helped to place the U.S. in advance position to project its national interest, at the same time to give the country’s leverages to influence political and economic situations in Africa.

The importance of foreign aid on Liberia’s socio-economic development has always been a topical subject of interest and debate among political pundits, professionals, intellectuals, ordinary citizens and aid workers respectively. The nation’s reconstruction in the areas of socio-economic growth and development, and eradication of extreme poverty and hunger largely hinges on the foreign support from Liberia’s development partners. During the period of the case of this thesis Liberia was blessed to have received from various corners of the world international support in the form of loan, grant, projects and technical assistant

It is moreover the conviction of this study to make a strong motion that Liberia’s socio-economic development entirely depends on the magnitude at which various stakeholders join hands and aim at managing and properly utilizing foreign aid and other international assistance. World Bank (2002) recommends that, one of the ways of fighting poverty across the globe is realizing the goal of provision of aid to less developed countries (LDCs) by more developed countries (MDCs). Such aid is supported by WB & IMF – directed economic structural adjustment programs. One may underscore the fact that the various programs have been tailor-made to focus on specific developmental targets hence attainment of socio-economic development in some way.

The pivotal or multi-million dollar question that arises then is: to what extent has foreign aid contributed to the socio-economic development of post-war Liberia’s development? And to answer this question, one needs to remember what Mushi (1982) says about positive aid: that aid is developmental only if it lays the foundation for its future rejection. Since World War II, foreign aid has been fueled by both political and economic motivations of the ruling classes in the western donor nations. A classic example is the United States of America Foreign Aid, the Marshall Plan (1948) that was aimed at rehabilitating the   shattered economies of Western Europe When the balance of Cold War interests shifted from Europe to the World in the mid-1950s, the policy of containment embodied in the U.S. aid program dictated a shift in emphasis toward political economic and military support for friendly less developed nations especially those considered geographically strategic (Todaro, 1983).

Liberia, like other post conflict countries in the world today is no exception to the dependence on foreign aid.  While Liberia enjoyed relative peace and stability since the end of the civil war in 2003, the country remains fragile on the environmental, economic, security, political and societal dimensions according to the 2016 Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) fragility framework. Most notably are the economic aspect of fragility due the country’s weak economic fundamentals, low-skilled human capital and high vulnerability to exogenous shocks, as well as the political dimension due to issues of capacity, corruption and concentration of power.

The end of 14 year civil war brought with it the assurance of greater international economic assistance. Along with the global presence of non-for-profit organizations, and official donors stepped up their aid commitments. According to the OECD, in 2012, Liberia received $571 million dollars in Official Development Assistance from the World Bank and IMF. In the same year, the United States provided Liberia with $181 million aid dollars. As a result, Liberia received three-times more ODA than the Sub-Saharan average (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development OECD, 2014).

Liberia has benefited from many other donors such as the United States of America, Republic of China, European Union, Federal Republic of Germany, Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), African Union (AU), France, Norway, Danish, SWISS, and Sweden Governments, Arab League, United Nations, IMF, WTO, and ILO.  Liberia also became entitled to generous debt forgiveness in 2006 under the World Bank/IMF HIPC initiative (World Bank, 2014).

The Ministry of Finance and Development Planning (MFDP) established 2013 by an Act of the National Legislature, replaced the Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Planning and Economic Affairs. It is responsible for the formulation, institutionalization and administering of economic development, fiscal and tax policies for the promotion of sound and efficient management of financial resources of the government. As a custodian of the country’s economy, the MFDP combines public finance, development planning and economic management expertise and experience to effectively manage the economy.

Its mandate is in line with international financial management best practices. Within the MFDP is situated the Aid Management and Coordination Unit (AMCU) the center for all aid operations. AMCU is responsible to ensure effective coordination of donor funding, it works closely with Ministries Agencies and Commissions (MACs) as-well as Development Partners on every step of the Aid Cycle to secure and implement external assistance and in line with the Public

This work delves into the impact of foreign aid on post-conflict Liberia’s socio-economic development and looks deep into how Liberia has made used of aid in its post conflict recovery program, to positively impact national development. Besides, it also seeks to determine how funds and knowledge are transmitted to Liberia and interaction between recipients and donors with respect to the processes of foreign aid on the country’s socio-economic recovery and development program. It further analyzes how aid is being delivered and managed at sectorial level with particular focus on mutual accountability and results attainment.  The flow of foreign aid to Liberia has been a subject of discussion especially following the notorious war and its aftermath.

However, on the critical issue of triangular relations regarding U.S., China and Liberia, political pundits and academics consider the two big economic powers’ aid as not all about just resources, but to undercut one another’s existence on the African continent, and gain influence over the other. Academics see both U.S. and China’s foreign aid to African governments, nations and states purely based on several factors and such factors include domination, security, fight against terrorism and respect for “one China policy. Several researches have shown that China’s foreign aid to African states and governments is to give Beijing due advantage for oil and other natural resources. While for the U.S., the foreign aid   assistance helped to place the U.S. in advance position to project its national interest, at the same time to give the country’s leverages to influence political and economic situations in Africa.

The importance of foreign aid on Liberia’s socio-economic development has always been a topical subject of interest and debate among political pundits, professionals, intellectuals, ordinary citizens and aid workers respectively. The nation’s reconstruction in the areas of socio-economic growth and development, and eradication of extreme poverty and hunger largely hinges on the foreign support from Liberia’s development partners. During the period of the case of this thesis Liberia was blessed to have received from various corners of the world international support in the form of loan, grant, projects and technical assistant

It is moreover the conviction of this study to make a strong motion that Liberia’s socio-economic development entirely depends on the magnitude at which various stakeholders join hands and aim at managing and properly utilizing foreign aid and other international assistance. World Bank (2002) recommends that, one of the ways of fighting poverty across the globe is realizing the goal of provision of aid to less developed countries (LDCs) by more developed countries (MDCs). Such aid is supported by WB & IMF – directed economic structural adjustment programs. One may underscore the fact that the various programs have been tailor-made to focus on specific developmental targets hence attainment of socio-economic development in some way.

The pivotal or multi-million dollar question that arises then is: to what extent has foreign aid contributed to the socio-economic development of post-war Liberia’s development? And to answer this question, one needs to remember what Mushi (1982) says about positive aid: that aid is developmental only if it lays the foundation for its future rejection. Since World War II, foreign aid has been fueled by both political and economic motivations of the ruling classes in the western donor nations. A classic example is the United States of America Foreign Aid, the Marshall Plan (1948) that was aimed at rehabilitating the   shattered economies of Western Europe When the balance of Cold War interests shifted from Europe to the World in the mid-1950s, the policy of containment embodied in the U.S. aid program dictated a shift in emphasis toward political economic and military support for friendly less developed nations especially those considered geographically strategic (Todaro, 1983).

Liberia, like other post conflict countries in the world today is no exception to the dependence on foreign aid.  While Liberia enjoyed relative peace and stability since the end of the civil war in 2003, the country remains fragile on the environmental, economic, security, political and societal dimensions according to the 2016 Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) fragility framework. Most notably are the economic aspect of fragility due the country’s weak economic fundamentals, low-skilled human capital and high vulnerability to exogenous shocks, as well as the political dimension due to issues of capacity, corruption and concentration of power.

The end of Liberian civil war brought with it the assurance of greater international economic assistance. Along with the global presence of non-for-profit organizations, and official donors stepped up their aid commitments. According to the OECD, in 2012, Liberia received $571 million dollars in Official Development Assistance from the World Bank and IMF. In the same year, the United States provided Liberia with $181 million aid dollars. As a result, Liberia received three-times more ODA than the Sub-Saharan average (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development OECD, 2014).

Liberia has benefited from many other donors such as the United States of America, Republic of China, European Union, Federal Republic of Germany, Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), African Union (AU), France, Norway, Danish, SWISS, and Sweden Governments, Arab League, United Nations, IMF, WTO, and ILO.  Liberia also became entitled to generous debt forgiveness in 2006 under the World Bank/IMF HIPC initiative (World Bank, 2014).

The Ministry of Finance and Development Planning (MFDP) established 2013 by an Act of the National Legislature, replaced the Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Planning and Economic Affairs. It is responsible for the formulation, institutionalization and administering of economic development, fiscal and tax policies for the promotion of sound and efficient management of financial resources of the government. As a custodian of the country’s economy, the MFDP combines public finance, development planning and economic management expertise and experience to effectively manage the economy.

Its mandate is in line with international financial management best practices. Within the MFDP is situated the Aid Management and Coordination Unit (AMCU) the center for all aid operations. AMCU is responsible to ensure effective coordination of donor funding, it works closely with Ministries Agencies and Commissions (MACs) as-well as Development Partners on every step of the Aid Cycle to secure and implement external assistance and in line with the Public

According to USAID, the current U.S. foreign aid system was created 1961 Foreign Assistance Act which attempted to streamline the government’s efforts to provide assistance around the world. The statute defines aid as “the unilateral transfers of U.S. resources by the U.S. Government to or for the benefit of foreign entities.” These resources include not just goods and funding, but also technical assistance, educational programming, health care, and other services.

In order to present an accurate analysis of U.S. foreign aid assistance to African governments and states, and compare that to China’s foreign aid assistance to African government, this study analyzed U.S. Overseas Loans and Grants”, informally known as the “Green book”, is an annual report submitted to Congress required by the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961.  The detailed report summarizes U.S. government foreign assistance data from 1945 to the present on a country by country basis. It is the official record of the level and geographic distribution of U.S. foreign assistance (USAID, 2017).

However, on the critical issue of triangular relations regarding U.S., China and Liberia, political pundits and academics consider the two big economic powers’ aid as not all about just resources, but to undercut one another existence on the African continent, and gain influence over the other. Academics see both U.S. and China’s foreign aid to African governments, nations and states purely based several factors and that factors include domination, security, fight against terrorism, respect for “one China policy. Several researches have showed that China’s foreign aid to African states and governments is to give Beijing due advantage for oil and other natural resources.

While for the U.S., the foreign aid helped to place the U.S. in advance position to project its national interest, at the same time to give the country’s leverages to influence political and economic situations in Africa. It is against this backdrop that a comprehensive analysis is put into place to determine which country is the larger donor of foreign aid to Africa? Is it the United States  or China?  In other to contextualize U.S. and China’s foreign aid to African government and states, the researcher considered it appropriate from a broader background to define and discuss foreign aid.

The emergence of China as a major player in the development of African countries did heat up the competition with the U.S., especially in terms of using foreign aid as a venue to strengthen the donor’s power among developing countries. Chinese development assistance and other transcontinental infrastructure projects to Africa, like US$900 billion to the One Belt One Road Initiative, are growing, but the Trump administration aims to slash the foreign aid budget in 2018, especially the aid to Africa, citing corruption as the main reason. The proposed cut encountered fierce opposition in Congress and was deemed simplistic and arbitrary by Senator Patrick Leahy, the Senate Appropriations Committee’s top Democrat.

According to Reuters (2018) report, China is seeking to establish an international development cooperation agency to coordinate its foreign aid, which “gives China an advantage over the U.S. in the approach to managing foreign aid to Africa,” said China Daily in an editorial on former Secretary Rex Tillerson’s visit to China. Congress will continue to challenge Trump’s proposed cuts and the fight against poverty in Africa will continue.

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.

OECD (2013) states that bilateral aid flows from one government to another and that bilateral aid to poor countries reached its all-time high ofUS$134.8 billion in 2013. According to OECD, by dollar amount, the U.S. is the world’s biggest bilateral aid donor. In 2012 the U.S. handed out $31.2 billion in economic assistance to 182 countries especially poor countries in the world. The money is distributed by more than 21 U.S. government agencies, mainly within the departments of State, the Treasury, Agriculture, and Health and Human Services. Afghanistan was the top recipient, taking in close to $3 billion while Kenya and South Sudan placed next; Liberia is persistent receptionist of foreign aid (Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, 2013).

According to the OECD (2013), multilateral organizations bring together multiple countries and other entities for collective action under the term “international community”. For instance, the World Bank is one of the biggest aid donor; the Bank is funded mainly by the governments of most of the world’s countries, the World Bank gives billions in loans and grants every year conformity with its goals to fight and reduce poverty. Another example is specialized UN agencies like United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) raises money from governments, individuals, corporations, and foundations to promote education, health care, and disaster relief around the world.

About the author: Professor Josephus Moses Gray has achieved the highest level of academic mastery in his chosen academic field including a Ph.D. in International Relations and Diplomacy from the HELP-CEDS Graduate School (Center for Diplomatic and Strategic Studies) 10 rue Sextius Michel 75015 Paris, Republic of France. He also holds a Master’s degree in International Relations and Bachelor’s degree in Communication (Print Journalism) from the University of Liberia. He also holds dozen of diplomas and certificates in Foreign policy Studies, international relations, diplomacy, print journalism, development communication, and practical research from Paris, Genera, Beijing, Washington, Cape Town, Rabat, Accra, Dakar and Monrovia. He currently serves as Associate Professor and Dean of Professor Amos C. Sawyer College of social Sciences and Humanities, University of Liberia and worked in several other strategic positions including Senior Policy Advisor to the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Liberia, Assistant Foreign Minister for Public Affairs; Political Counselor at the Embassy of Liberia in Paris, France, and Charge D’ Affairs at Liberia Permanent Mission to the Swiss Federation and the United Nations in Genera, Switzerland.

 

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About Cholo Brooks 17508 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.

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