Africa’s Place in the Sino-US Power Struggle

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In addition to having a large population, natural resources and potential, Africa is also home to some critical problems. These problems include climate change (drought, floods, etc.), radical terrorist organizations, rebel groups, coups, civil wars, economic problems and food insecurity. However, it is not easy for African countries to resolve these issues on their own.

At this point, big states and international organizations come into play. States and organizations such as Russia, China, the United States of America (USA), England, India and the United Nations (UN) are taking some steps to solve these problems in various ways. However, these initiatives vary from country to country, and the countries in question mostly take care of their own interests. For example, China increases its effectiveness at the points where its major projects are located on the continent and provides security to these areas. Although this seems to be in favor of Africa, it actually leads to more instability.

The USA-Africa Summit held in Washington in December 2022 is also an indication of the US’s efforts to increase its influence in the region against the increasing Russian-Chinese influence in the continent. The main purpose of this summit has been described as promoting economic engagement, advancing peace and security on the continent, among many other objectives, and thereby helping Africa’s development. However, while many people in Africa have difficulty in finding food to eat; Demanding something from African countries on climate change issues means both ignoring Africa’s problems and putting Africans in a difficult position because of an issue they did not cause. Because countries that pollute the air and cause more climate change should take steps in this regard; Demanding this from African states at the African Summit needs explanation.

As a matter of fact, the concern in many African countries is related to the fact that developed economies such as the USA have historically been the main carbon emitter and that these states should contribute to the fight against climate change. In this context, the role of the USA is not only to put pressure on African countries; will be to find common solutions to the environmental crisis. Otherwise, it is not possible for the Washington administration to make progress in Africa.

In this respect, the Washington administration is trying to concentrate on many issues such as combating climate change in Africa, food security, epidemics, wars and riots. For this reason, the USA promised to support African countries with 55 billion dollars in three years.[1] This situation can be interpreted as the USA trying to increase its influence in Africa through aid and support.

On the other hand, Chinese President Xi Jinping attended the Sino-Arab Summit in Saudi Arabia. Considering that some of the countries participating in the summit are African, it can be said that China gave a clear answer to both the Middle East and Africa. Increasing relations between China and Arab countries will have important repercussions on the continent. In addition, another important step in these relations is the appointment of Qin Gang, who recently served as China’s Ambassador to the United States, to the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

It should be stated that; It is not surprising that Gang started his first trip from Africa. Because for more than 30 years, every appointed Chinese Foreign Minister has made his first overseas visit to Africa. Gang started his five-country visit in Africa with Ethiopia and later went to Gabon, Angola, Benin and Egypt. Gang, who also met with African Union President Faki Mahamat, also met with Arab League Secretary General Ahmed Abu Gayt during his visit to Cairo.

The messages Gang gave during his visits were to reduce tensions and maintain peace between the USA and China. This indicates that the new Foreign Minister of China is in favor of reducing tensions in both bilateral and regional relations.

Gang was asked by journalists about China’s view of the second US-Africa Leaders’ Summit, and Gang replied that as permanent members of the United Nations Security Council, China and the USA undertake important responsibilities for the peace, security and development of the world. Gang made the following sentences in the continuation of the answer:[2]

“Sino-US relations should not be competitive, one’s own gain at the expense of the other. This harms both sides and even the world. China and the United States should respect each other, coexist peacefully, maintain win-win cooperation and not harm the interests of third parties.”

Despite the above statement, it is highly remarkable that Gang’s visit to Africa was made in January 2023. Because the USA-Africa Leaders’ Summit was held in December 2022, and the name of China was almost never mentioned at this summit. It is known that China, which has made major breakthroughs and investments in Africa in the last 10 years, has become the continent’s most important commercial partner, pushing the USA into the background. It is clear that Russia is the most important partner of the continent in terms of military relations. All this worries the Washington administration. For this reason, the summit, which was last held eight years ago, was held again during Joe Biden’s US Presidency.

This situation reveals the importance of the summit in question. Gang’s visit to Africa following this summit reflects China’s will to maintain its relations with African countries. The fact that Gang’s first stop is Africa confirms this. Finally, it should be stated that; Planning a meeting with the Secretary General of the Arab League in Egypt also shows that a new page will be opened in Sino-Arab League relations.

As a result, Gang’s visit to Africa revealed the importance attached to the continent by the Beijing administration. In this context, it can be stated that although China gives messages of cooperation with the USA, competition in the continent comes to the fore. In fact, this visit is basically a response to the USA-Africa Summit. For this reason, it is possible to predict that the struggle for influence between the parties will increase even more in Africa.

[1] “US Commits $55 Billion to Africa over Next Three Years: White House”, RFI,, (Date of Accession: 15.01.2023).

[2] “Qin Gang: Africa Is a Big Stage for International Cooperation, Not an Arena for Major-Power Rivalry”, FMPRC,, (Date of Accession: 15.01.2023).

Ankara Yıldırım Beyazıt Üniversitesi Siyaset Bilimi ve Kamu Yönetimi bölümünde lisans eğitimi alan Göktuğ ÇALIŞKAN, aynı süreçte çift ana dal programı kapsamında üniversitenin Siyasal Bilgiler Fakültesi’nde yer alan Uluslararası İlişkiler bölümünde de eğitim görmüştür. 2017 yılında lisans mezuniyetini tamamladıktan sonra Ankara Hacı Bayram Veli Üniversitesi Uluslararası İlişkiler bölümünde yüksek lisans programına başlayan Çalışkan, bu programı 2020 yılında başarı ile tamamlamıştır. 2018 yılında ise çift ana dal programı kapsamında eğitim gördüğü Uluslararası İlişkiler bölümünden mezun olmuştur. Millî Eğitim Bakanlığı (MEB) bursu kapsamında 2017 yılı YLSY programını kazanarak halen Fransa’da dil eğitimi alan Göktuğ Çalışkan aynı zamanda Erciyes Üniversitesi Hukuk Fakültesi son sınıf öğrencisidir. YLSY programı kapsamında Fas'ta Uluslararası Rabat Üniversitesinde Yönetişim ve Uluslararası İstihbarat alanında 2. yüksek lisansını yapmakta olan Çalışkan, Ankara Hacı Bayram Veli Üniversitesi Uluslararası Ilişkiler bölümünde doktorasına başlamıştır. Iyi derecede İngilizce ve Fransızca bilmektedir.