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USA vs China: Take your pick (2)

USA vs China: Take your pick (2)
November 04
10:25 2021

In a number of ways, the ongoing global geo-strategic struggle between the United States of America and its allies on one hand and China on the other offers a unique opportunity for Africa led by Nigeria to capitalise and get the best out of the situation.

Africa with its abundant relatively untapped natural and human resources as well as the fastest-growing population is the next frontier of world development. It is also the market of the future. Europe with its ageing population and low birth rate is likely to face serious social and economic crises in future. In America also, the white population is being gradually swamped by the non-white population which indicates that the future of America will continue to be uncertain.

The global geopolitical struggle between America and China is not just about them although that is what it looks like; it is also about opportunities opening up as the two powers jostle against each other, for other countries to make hay. How then can Nigeria lead Africa to cash in on the opportunities that come with the USA-China global kampf? Do we put our eggs in the basket of one of the powers or should we be pragmatic and steer a middle course between the two hoping to get the best deals out of both of them?

I believe most Nigerians and Africans would prefer the latter course. But I think most fundamentally we will need to think out of the current box of economic and political engagements we have with both powers in order to maximally benefit from their ongoing global geostrategic struggle.

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Let us begin with the United States of America.

America believes Africans being too poor in mentality are an irritating nuisance and thus not worth the bother of its direct economic engagement. With its dominance and control of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the World Bank and the global dominance of its currency the dollar, the US handles its economic engagements with Africa through these institutions. Whatever it grants to Africa in terms of economic assistance has to have been approved by these institutions. It works like this; if you want to straighten your balance of payments to enable you to import those things vital to your survival or organise your development priorities, America will ask you to go talk to the folks at the IMF. And those folks will give you conditions which if you agree and sign to will get you what they call special drawing rights (SDR). With that, you go either to the major global lending agencies who will scrutinize the IMF imprimatur given to you and add another set of conditions of their own based on prevailing market situations.

If on the other hand, you chose to go to the World Bank with your IMF approval to finance a development project, then of course the World Bank will refer you to the International Finance Corporation (IFC) which will also lend you the money under yet another set of conditions. And what is more, the IFC always has a laundry list of companies, foundations and agencies it will compel you to patronise for your project. You cannot source any other company outside of the list given to you otherwise you don’t get the loan. And again you don’t even have the liberty to spend the money you are being loaned or prioritise the expenditure. The World Bank will not only spend it for you but will choose how to spend it for you for which you will pay on their terms without question.

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The Chinese have found a way around this convoluted economic engagement. That is what the Belt and Road Initiative is all about. Instead of compelling you to go through the IMF and World Bank song and dance routine, all they need from you is for a delegation to visit Beijing and sign off some documents for XYZ projects. And pronto an army of Chinese project engineers and labourers will soon descend into your country and start working in earnest. Looks direct, nice and tidy, isn’t it?

On the surface yes, except that like the World Bank template everything from the office pins and the machinery the Chinese will give you comes from China. And in all probability, the material and equipment they will bring will be of low quality, not user friendly and the costing not commensurate with what is provided. It is a very smart way of providing jobs back home in China and opening your market for Chinese products and ideas. Going forward you will be in debt to China and your economy will be in hock to them.

Both the Americans and the Chinese have the same goal in mind; dominance and control. The Chinese will not seek to interfere directly in your politics because quite honestly their communist economic and political model does not amount to scratch for most countries of the world. The Americans on the other hand will seek to lecture you about human rights and how to order your political life. All sanctimonious nonsense when one considers that America itself perpetrated genocide against the indigenous Indian population it met there, enslaved millions of Africans and to this day has continued in the same way around the world.

Actually, it is smart tactics by the Americans to hide behind those high minded ideals in order to mask its continuing robbery of the poor, helpless peoples of the world. Americans reckon that if they aggressively wave the issue of human rights and political correctness in your face you will struggle first to defend or correct yourself as demanded by them rather than looking closely at their robbery of your country. In other words, while they are picking your pockets big time they are diverting attention to that crime of theirs by telling you and the world how dirty you look.

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That is the unfortunate situation Nigeria and Africans are in with both the United States and China. It gives the illusion of cooperation and assistance from them but in reality, we are just being lured into debts, impoverishment, dependence and underdevelopment. And for the sake of our today and our tomorrow, we must wake up from our slumber and summon the courage to meet the Americans and the Chinese, ideas for ideas, tactics for tactics and strategies for strategies in order to make the most out of their global geostrategic struggle against each other. (To be concluded).

Gadu can be reached via 08035355706(sms only)

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