Feb 1, 2019
When U.S. National Security Advisor John Bolton announced Washington's new strategy for Africa last December, he mentioned China 14 times in his speech. So often, in fact, that a lot of observers commented that the new policy seemed to be more focused on containing China's rising influence on the continent than on Africa itself.
Now, two months later, there's been no follow-up from the White House, leaving a lot of people to wonder what's going on and if the policy, known as "Prosper Africa," has somehow gotten lost amid the chaos that has subsumed the Trump administration.
The silence since the Bolton speech no doubt provides some reassurance to officials in Beijing even if the U.S. wanted to really challenge the Chinese presence in Africa, they just don't seem to be up to the task. "So how concerned should China be about this new US policy towards Africa? Not very," professors Joshua Eisenman and David Shinn in a column published in the South China Morning Post (SCMP) newspaper. "Bolton’s statement is heavy on rhetoric, but the strategy is stillborn because the administration is not allocating the resources or manpower required for it to succeed," they added.
Meanwhile, other experts contend that resources have nothing to do with it, and instead, it's more about the fact that the Chinese are not central America's long-term strategic interests in Africa.
"China may get all the ink following Ambassador Bolton’s announcement of a new Africa Strategy, but the things that ought to interest Africans have far less to do with “great power” competition and more to do with bilateral U.S. individual African state relationships," said Colonel Chris Wyatt, Director of African Studies at the U.S. Army War College.
Professor Eisenman, a China-Africa scholar at the University of Texas in Austin, joins Eric & Cobus to discuss his SCMP recent column and the current state of U.S.-China-Africa geopolitics.
Join the discussion? What did you think of the Bolton speech and the new U.S. strategy for Africa? Do you think China should be worried? Let us know what you think.