CHINESE President Xi Jingping has pledged to provide $100 million in military aid to the African Union’s standby force over the next five years, the China Daily has reported.
by Everson Mushava
Jingping reportedly made the pledge when he addressed the United Nations peacekeeping summit while winding off his state visit to the United States of America last Monday.
He said China was keen to offer military aid for peacekeeping purposes to Africa in order to ensure stability on the African continent.
An African standby force, Jingping said, will build the continent’s “capacity for immediate crisis response”.
Among a list of pledges, Jingping said China will also provide a helicopter squad to assist UN peace operations in Africa.
He said China will also offer military training to 2 000 peacekeepers from other countries in the next five years, apart from rolling out 10 demining programmes in Africa.
In recent years, China had been increasing its presence in Africa, especially on the business front. It has constructed the Africa Union building in Ethiopia, apart from taking part in peacekeeping missions in countries like Sudan and South Sudan.
The Asian giant has also signed numerous bilateral and economic agreements with several African countries. Analysts have claimed the world’s second largest economy was fast becoming Africa’s new imperial power.
Political analyst Ernest Mudzengi said the move was China’s grand plan to achieve maximum geopolitics influence in the world. He said it was also a bold statement about China’s economic interests in Africa.
“China is trying to increase its influence in Africa and position itself as a super power,” he said.
Another political analyst Alexander Rusero said China was using both the soft and hard power approach to its engagement with Africa.
“If you are to look at China’s thrust since the launch of the Forum on China Africa Co-operation in 2000, it was to increase China’s attractiveness in Africa and beyond, so China used a greater degree of soft power. But real power in the international system is still rooted in hard power, more guns, more bullets and more artillery,” he said.
Rusero said China was competing with the US whose aim was to enhance humanitarian relief and security in Africa.
“To checkmate this, the Chinese have decided to enter the race by also warming up to military aid, military assistance. This all done to checkmate the US in Africa in terms of security and military presence in the continent,” he said.
“But Africa will emerge the biggest loser, especially its citizens. Given the policy of the Chinese of non-interference in domestic politics, it means even authoritarian governments will have access to sophisticated military hardware, which is likely to be used in circumstances where dictators feel their power and hegemony is being challenged by the citizens.”