Hearing on "China in Africa: Implications for U.S. Policy”
underpinnings that help build robust open societies. To this end, it has not gone unnoticed that as the Chinese identify and seize development and investment
opportunities across Africa, they are doing so to help secure their own economic objectives but often without concern for national political dynamics and the
consequences their engagement may have on local populations.
“Nonetheless, the U.S. must not fall into the trap of believing that simply because China is willing to provide a package of assistance, enter into some
partnership, or make some investment, we need to try and ‘beat the Chinese to the punch.’ In some cases, it may not be economically feasible or prudent for
American companies to compete with Chinese state-subsidized firms. In many other instances, loosening or abandoning historic U.S. standards for democracy,
governance, and human rights to seize an ‘opportunity’ would weaken our most potent and unique leverage – our fundamental values. Compromising these
principles will leave us with less influence over the long term and limit our ability to build lasting, productive partnerships for the pursuit of shared objectives on
“Where the Chinese are providing critical infrastructure development, we should not attempt to compete with or obstruct these efforts, but rather we should
seek to empower African governments and communities to demand internationally recognized standards with respect to the environment, human rights, and
“There are times, however, when China’s actions need to be condemned – for example, when they sell weapons to Sudan that can be used to prolong the
conflict in Darfur, or build new power plants that support Robert Mugabe’s repressive regime in Zimbabwe. We as an international community should not tolerate
such reckless behavior as it undermines global efforts to bring peace and security to these countries. We should be clear about the need to uphold international
norms and responsibilities and not provide ‘soft loans’ as a substitute.
“In sum, I believe that the appropriate response to China’s rising role in Africa is more U.S. engagement with both Africans and Chinese to show that we
acknowledge the growing strategic importance of this continent and are committed, over the long term, to its stability, development, and prosperity.
U.S. Senator Russ Feingold gave these opening remarks at a Senate Foreign Relations African Affairs Subcommittee meeting on June 4 in Washington, D.C.
From the Office of U.S. Senator Russ Feingold
“I have traveled to Africa many times over the sixteen years that I have served on this Subcommittee, and I have
often noted the tangible, prominent signs of China’s activities on the continent – new roads, ornate government
buildings, crowd-pleasing soccer stadiums, and growing numbers of Chinese-run factories and retailers. Through its ‘no
strings attached’ approach and ability to deploy state-owned assets, China has rapidly increased its trade, investment,
and influence in many sub-Saharan African countries in recent years.
“I am pleased to hold this hearing today to further examine this issue as China makes its interest in Africa abundantly
clear, and as other emerging economies follow its lead. Two years ago, China held the Beijing Summit of the Forum on
China-Africa Co-operation — which served as a clear indication of China’s commitment to this part of the world. With
leaders of 48 African countries – including Sudan's Omar al-Bashir and Zimbabwe's Robert Mugabe in attendance,
Chinese President Hu Jintao noted that China wants to be Africa's ‘partner’ and pledged to double his country's
assistance to the continent by 2009 through a raft of new loans, development projects in health, education, and
agriculture, and debt cancellations. The 2006 Sino-African Summit sparked concern in some Western countries, where
donors feared their efforts to improve economic and political governance would be undermined by China’s un-
“In theory, there should be no problem with this type of increased cooperation and engagement. It is no secret that
many African nations are in great need of assistance when it comes to building infrastructure and strengthening their
economies. However this engagement becomes more problematic when it appears – and often is - devoid of the critical
US. Senator Russ Feingold