Diplomat speaks of African relations
David Shinn, former U.S. ambassador to Ethiopia and Burkina Faso, yesterday spoke at the University about the growth of Chinese-African relations during the past decade.
Shinn said China is primarily interested in Africa for four reasons: access to raw materials, political support, markets for China's exports and decreased Taiwanese diplomatic presence.
Shinn said China surpassed the United States as the leading trader with African nations in 2009. This increased trade relationship has helped support China's growing economy and has benefited the expanding middle classes of numerous African countries, he added.
"Since 2000 Chinese imports to Africa have increased 11-fold," Shinn said. "That is an enormous increase over a short time."
The United States may no longer be Africa's leading trading partner, but it still seeks the same goals as China does, Shinn said.
"The United States wants to maintain access to raw materials, wants to increase exports and wants to obtain maximum political support," Shinn said. "Those three interests are effectively identical to China's interests."
The main difference between the two countries' relationships with Africa is the United States' desire to maintain military access to African ports and airspace, Shinn added.
Shinn also said China has started to offer several African nations military support, recently helping to capture Somalian pirates in the Gulf of Aden.
"China's engagement in Africa has been more positive than negative overall," Shinn said.
-compiled by Abby Meredith