The Chinese news media broke out the hashtags last week as soon as Air Force One landed in Beijing, delivering both President Trump and an irresistible propaganda opportunity for President Xi Jinping of China.

US President Trump made it easy, flattering Mr. Xi at every turn and blaming the massive trade deficit between the United States and China on previous American leaders.

Trump’s visit came just weeks after Mr. Xi won a second five-year term as China’s leader. Wielding vast powers unseen since the days of Mao Zedong and Deng Xiaoping, Mr. Xi used the American president’s visit as a way to legitimize his authority at home.

China-Africa Connection

Beijing’s engagement with Africa is more multi-layered than is often recognised. China, Ms Jing says, has used Africa almost as a testing ground for its growing international ambitions.

This ranges from peacekeeping missions to road construction, ports and railways built to bind much of the developing world, via a new Silk Road, to the Middle Kingdom.

In 2000, China-Africa trade was a mere $10bn. By 2014, that had risen more than 20-fold to $220bn according to the China Africa Research Initiative at Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies in Washington, though it has fallen back because of lower commodity prices. 

Over that period, China’s foreign direct investment stocks have risen from just 2 per cent of US levels to 55 per cent, with billions of dollars of new investments being made each year.

China contributes about one-sixth of all lending to Africa, according to a study by the John L Thornton China Center at the Brookings Institution.

Certainly, China has been attracted by Africa’s abundant resources: oil from Angola, Nigeria and Sudan, copper from Zambia and the Democratic Republic of Congo, and uranium from Namibia.

Deepening United States-Africa Relationship

The United States trade relationship with sub-Saharan Africa remains underdeveloped. In fact, U.S. trade with Africa has been declining since 2011. 

Currently, only approximately 1.5 percent of U.S. exports are to sub-Saharan Africa. At the same time, economic growth in Africa from 2004 to 2014 averaged 5.8 percent, though in 2015 growth was only 3.75 percent.

This highlights the decline in commodity prices—a key export for many Africa countries—in response to the slowing growth rates in China.

Robust economic growth rates in sub-Saharan Africa will be key if the continent—where over 40 percent are still living in poverty—is to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.

One important way of supporting African growth and opportunity is through increasing African engagement with the international economy through increased participation in international trade.

The bilateral relations between Nigeria and China have expanded on growing bilateral trade and strategic cooperation. 

China is considered one of Nigeria's closest allies and partners. China is also one of Nigeria's important trading and export partners. 

According to a 2014 BBC World Service Poll, 85% of Nigerians view China's influence positively, with only 10% expressing a negative view, making Nigeria the most pro-Chinese nation in the world.

Trump On Africa's Business Potential

U.S. President Donald Trump was met with silence from African leaders in September when he tried to congratulate them for the economic progress the continent has made.

“Africa has tremendous business potential. I’ve so many friends going to your countries, trying to get rich,” Trump told them at a luncheon in New York, according to CNBC. “I congratulate you. They’re spending a lot of money,” he said.

The suggestion that wealthy Americans might be trying to enrich themselves in Africa would have been a sensitive one at the event, given that African labor and natural resources were subjected to centuries of European and American exploitation in the colonial era, including during the trans-Atlantic slave trade.

If both world powers agree to keep manufacturing and trading between both countries over the next 5 years, what becomes of African leaders' development visions tied to the foreign policies in China and America?

Did you also wonder why the 'America First' agenda suddenly evaporated immediately Air Force One touched down in Beijing?

Will Donald Trump's visit to China improve the trade relationship between the US and China, at the expense of Africa?


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