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New new world order

Xi Jinping’s first trip as President was to Africa (via Russia), and Li Keqiang took his first overseas visit of 2014 to the continent last week, visiting Ethiopia, Nigeria, Angola and Kenya last week.

Li’s recent visit reinforces the fact that China is the only major economy that takes Africa seriously. Unlike Western capitals, China has long given relations with Africa pride of place. As a result, annual Chinese investment in African infrastructure is nearly 20 times that of the United States and more than that of the World Bank and all Western governments combined. China has been Africa’s largest trading partner since 2009.

In response, the United States, Japan and others are trying to boost their engagement with the continent. The White House will host the first US-Africa Leaders Summit this August, although it is unlikely to match the triennial Forum on China Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) held since 2000. That the US and others seem to want to engage in response to China only enhances the feeling that Africa only matters as a geopolitical battleground and not in and of itself, much as it was during the colonial era and then the Cold War.

China works hard to differentiate itself from the former colonial powers. In his speech at the African Union, Li spoke of “common historical experiences” and “hav[ing] forged deep friendship in our joint struggle”, reminding his audience that China is also a developing country that has suffered at the hands of aggressive foreign powers.

China’s rhetoric is largely successful. While the Western media tends to paint China as a new colonial power, my experience traveling on the continent and talking with African officials, businessmen and intellectuals suggests that many view the Chinese presence positively. Part of this comes from a certain feeling of solidarity with another developing country, but most of the goodwill is simply because the Chinese tend to treat their African counterparts as equals. Instead of aid, they offer development; instead of lectures, they listen.

This contrast was evident over the past two weeks. US Secretary of State John Kerry was also in Africa, where he lectured his African audiences on corruption; Premier Li didn’t mention corruption, but did promise to quadruple investment in the continent. Li also gave a keynote address at the World Economic Forum on Africa, a meeting that no major Western statesmen bothered to attend.

What does this mean for multinational companies? In the short term, very little. Africa still represents a small portion of the global economy. But this will change in the coming decades; as Africa becomes more important, Chinese companies familiar with the market stand to benefit. As Managing Director of McKinsey Dominic Barton said at the World Economic Forum on Africa, “Africa represents our fastest-growing region in the world. If you want to be relevant, you need to be in this part of the world.”


In it together

It was barely noted in the Western press, but the head of the CPC International Department Wang jiarui met with US Secretary of State John Kerry in Washington last week. Such a meeting is very unusual as Wang holds no official government post. Wang is China’s point man on North Korea, so his visit was likely due to concerns on both sides of the Pacific that the North is looking increasingly aggressive and appears to close to another missile test.

Tensions certainly appear to be running high on the peninsula with South Korean Ministry of Defense saying on Monday that the North should “cease to exist.” This follows recent official statements by North Korea calling Barack Obama a “black monkey” and South Korean President Park a “prostitute.”

While Wang’s visit does not bode well for stability on the Korean peninsula, it does bode well for stability in US-China relations. It is encouraging to see that the two are working closely together on the issue. East Asia is filled with potential areas of conflict that could disrupt the global economy but the risk of such disruption is greatly minimized if China and the US can work together to achieve a working order. Let’s hope that cooperation on North Korea is a harbinger to mutual accommodation in the rest of the region.


PBSC Week in Review
Xi Jinping


May 12 Xi held talks with President of Turkmenistan Kurbanguly Berdymukhamedov.

China and Turkmenistan just increased gas exports to China.

    Xi sent his regards to the China-Africa People’s Forum.


  May 10 Xi continued his inspection tour to to Lankao County, Henan.


  May 9 Xi traveled to Lankao County in Henan to promote the Mass Line Education Campaign.


  May 7 Xi met with James Soong, founder of Taiwan’s People First Party.


  May 4 Xi visits Peking University.

Xi gave a speech to commemorate the May 4th Movement, calling on students to promote socialist values.


    Xi sent condolences to President Hamid Karzai of Afghanistan regarding the landslide in that country.


  May 1 Xi condemns the bombing in Urumqi.


Li Keqiang


May 11 Li signed an agreement for China to build an East African railway with Kenya, South Sudan, Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi.


    Li met with Deputy President of Kenya William Ruto.


    Li visited CCTV Africa workers in Nairobi, Kenya.


  May 10 Li held talks with President of Kenya Uhuru Kenyatta.


    Li held a press conference with President of Kenya Uhuru Kenyatta.


    Li spoke about the importance of biodiversity during a visit to the Ivory Burning Site Monument in the Nairobi National Park.


    Li met with UN Under-Secretary-General and Environment Programme (UNEP) Executive Director Achim Steiner.


  May 9 Li held talks with President of Angola José Eduardo dos Santos.


    Li held a press conference with President of Angola Jose Eduardo dos Santos.


    Li arrived in Nairobi, Kenya.


  May 8 Li gave a keynote speech at the World Economic Forum on Africa in Abuja, Nigeria.

The speech (in Chinese).


    Li held a symposium with Chinese businessmen and citizens living in Angola.

Over 200,000 Chinese living in Angola.


    Li inaugurated BN Angola CITIC vocational training center in Luanda, Angola.


    Li visited Chinese doctors in Luanda, Angola.


    Li arrived in Angola.


  May 7 Nigerian President Jonathan Goodluck held a welcome banquet for Li.


    Li held talks with President of Nigeria Goodluck Jonathan.


    Li and Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan held a joint press conference.


    Li met with President of Togo Faure Gnassingbé and Prime Minister of Mali Moussa Mara.


    Li met with President of Tanzania Jakaya Kikwete and President of Benin Yayi Boni.


  May 6 Li arrived in Nigeria.

Received key to the city of Abuja.


    Li met with Ethiopian President Mulatu Teshome.


    Li attended the China-Africa Economic, Trade and Culture Roundtable in Addis, Ababa, Ethiopia.


    Li visited patients at a hospital funded by the Chinese government in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.


  May 5 Li gave a speech at African Union headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.


    Li met with Chairperson of the African Union Commission Dlamini Zuma.


    Li visited the China Rail and Aviation Exhibition at the African Union.


    Li visited an industrial zone in Ethiopia where 19 Chinese companies have operations.


    Li attended the ceremony marking the opening of the Addis Ababa – Adama highway.

One of many highways in Africa built by the Chinese.


    Li visited the construction site of the Addis Ababa light rail system.

Being built by the Chinese.


  May 4 Li held talks with Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn.


    Li sets off for Ethiopia.

Traveling with wife Cheng Hong for first time.

Zhang Dejiang May 8 -11 Zhang was on an inspection tour to Zhejiang.


  May 7 Zhang attended a symposium commemorating the 100th birthday of former PLA General Ye Fei.

Ye was famous for publicly opposing 1989 Tian’anmen crackdown.


  May 6 Zhang met with Kyrgyz Parliament Speaker Asylbek Zheenbekov.

Signed MOU to deepen collaboration between the two legislatures. Zhang said the two sides should, “provide legal guarantees for a joint fight against three evil forces of separatism, extremism and terrorism, including “East Turkistan” forces.”


  May 5 Zhang met a delegation of Japanese lawmakers.

Zhang told the Japanese delegation, “The causes of the current deterioration in Japan-China relations lie with the Japanese side. I want Japan to address these problems.”


Yu Zhengsheng May 9 Yu met with a group of Japanese lawmakers led by Takeshi Noda.


    Yu chaired a symposium on United Front work.


  May 7 Yu met with James Soong, founder of Taiwan’s People First Party.


  May 6 Yu chaired a CPPCC symposium on improving judicial oversight.


Liu Yunshan May 6 Liu spoke at a meeting of the Mass Line Education Campaign Leading Small Group.


Wang Qishan


Zhang Gaoli May 8 Zhang met with First Deputy Prime Minister of Russia Igor Shuvalov.

Focus on increased financial and economic cooperation. Western sanctions on Russia will push Russia closer to China, and speed use of RMB in bilateral settlements.



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