0000326 - 55 Back to the Future Understanding China’s...

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Unformatted text preview: 55 Back to the Future: Understanding China’s Return to Africa and its Implications for U.S. Policy 3 Greg Pollock is a Master of Science candidate at the Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University ([email protected]). B ACK TO THE F UTURE : U NDERSTANDING C HINA ’ S R ETURN TO A FRICA AND ITS I MPLICATIONS FOR U.S. P OLICY Greg Pollock Since the mid-1970s, China (PRC) has experienced a period of unprecedented economic growth. However, the Chinese Communist Party’s hold on power is now predicated upon maintaining their country’s development trajectory, which requires increasing amounts of natural resources, particularly fossil fuels. To secure access to these raw materials, China has begun to deepen its engagement in parts of the world where Washington has enjoyed a near monopoly on influence since the end of the Cold War. Nowhere is this truer than in Africa, where China has pursued an array of new relationships, some of which directly challenge U.S. interests. This article reviews China’s historical relationship with Africa, accounts for its new investments on the continent, and assesses what the implications of China’s renewed interest in Africa are for U.S. policy. I NTRODUCTION By liberalizing the economy and opening to the West, China (PRC) em- barked on a period of unimaginable economic expansion beginning in the mid-1970s. The Chinese economy has grown by an annual average of more than 9 percent since the Deng era, and Chinese per capita income nearly quadrupled over the past fifteen years. However, maintaining this 56 Greg Pollock incredible level of economic growth requires Beijing’s leadership to pro- cure increasing amounts of natural resources. To secure access to these raw materials despite tight commodities markets, China has begun to forge new partnerships in parts of the world where Washington’s influence has been largely unchallenged in recent years. This is especially true in Africa, whose strategic importance is becoming increasingly apparent to the United States, China, and other interested parties. The United States currently obtains 15 percent of its oil imports from Africa, and the continent could supply America with as much energy as the Middle East over the next decade (Council on Foreign Relations 2006). The National Intelligence Council predicts that one in four bar- rels of oil imported to the United States within the next ten years will be from Africa – the same percentage of oil that China currently obtains from African suppliers (Bajpaee 2005). Both the United States and China have also shown increased interest in Africa’s vast supplies of other natural resources. Given this scenario, Africa’s energy and mineral reserves could be among the early geo-strategic battlegrounds for growing U.S.-China competition....
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This note was uploaded on 02/01/2012 for the course POLS 494 taught by Professor Garymoncrief during the Fall '11 term at Boise State.

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0000326 - 55 Back to the Future Understanding China’s...

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