- Here’s an interesting review by Ken Kamoche on African-Asian relations, and the problem of aid. The goals of the three big Asian nations can essentially be summed up as follows:
- CHINA Goal: Resources; Containing Taiwan
- China has hosted the world leaders of just about all African party nations, primarily because of China’s thirst for resources continues unabated, but also because to contain the political recognition of Taiwan. Although both China and many African countries have come away with benefits, they have been skewed in favour of China, and the relationship has been dogged by controversy.
- INDIA Goal: Business Ties; Political support
- Dehli has long eyed Africa’s for business opportunities, but the approach is ad hoc and piecemeal, and often all rhetoric with little substance, except in terms of exporting labour to Africa. Part of this is hindered by the fact that in many ways, India remains a developing region like Africa (so is China, but in a different way). Then there is UNSC membersip, an exclusive tier of nations that India dreams to join to solidify its status as a world power. The political equation of gaining a permanent seat in the UN Security Council, or in the case of Taiwan, simply being allowed to join the UN, requires block support, which is where Africa comes in.
- JAPAN Goal: Political Support; New Markets
- Japan has the vaguest goals in Africa. Like India, Japan wants a seat on the UNSC. It also wants support on international treaties regarding everything from global warming to whaling. But Japan may hold the greatest hope for Africa if it can help growth in the same way it helped Thailand, where the largest Japanese manufacturers, anxious to escape the high costs of labour and production in Japan, built not just roads and dams, but also industrial parks. One interesting fact not noted in the article is that Africa is increasingly becoming a market for Japanese goods, such as the growth in exports of automobiles from Japan to Africa, while exports to other markets have stagnated or dropped.
When you have certain distraction which drains a significant portion of your resources, you have a major competitive disadvantage. This is China's competitive disadvanage (fortunately it could be largely reduced, if not resolved during the next 4 years, i.e. provided that the PRC government is not making stupid mistakes it did in the previous 3 decades) -- hat tip, cominganarchy.com