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Last Updated:[17-06-2013 03:14:55 EDT] Zoom in Zoom out Back to Tradenews

Battlefield Africa- China and Japan fight for Economic Control

tradenews A new chapter in the ‘cold’ war between China and Japan is being written in the sun-baked continent of Africa. Japan, until recently unconcerned about spreading its roots in Africa, has awakened to the realisation that its Asian rival has invested heavily in this economically promising continent in the last fifteen years. In light of the recent Sino-Japanese strife, a relaxed approach from Japan is no longer a viable option- ergo; the Japanese Premier Shinzo Abe announced a developmental investment of $32 billion to Africa, last week at the Fifth Tokyo International Conference on African Development. This contribution is significantly higher than the $20 billion pledged by the Chinese for a similar cause to Africa. Besides, the Japanese aren’t very particular on which projects the money is used by the Africans- the Chinese are.

For the sake of politeness, the Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe had to try hard to differentiate his country’s proposed aid as against China’s that was forwarded to Africa in 2010. Abe took great pains to avoid the word ‘China’ while highlighting the fact that Japan was willing to train upto 30,000 Africans to help them run the infrastructure as developed from this funding, as against the traditional Chinese policy of employing its own workforce for International projects. Often, this workforce lingers on after the project is completed and could emerge as a source of tension amongst China and the country receiving the aid.

The Japanese aid will be evenly split amongst ten African countries- chosen after multiple rounds of meticulous discussions between the Japanese contingent and the top brass of upto forty African states. East Africa, Kenya and Somalia are assured to feature in this list of selections- based on various Japanese interests that are in the pipeline that are definitely not altruistic in nature. Japan also intends to address the development of universal basic health services throughout the African continent, while it seeks Africa’s support for Tokyo’s campaign to host the 2020 Olympics. Abe was particular about creating a trusting environment wherein African and Japanese business interests can safely and freely invest in each other’s economies. Japan is really going long term on this one.

Definitely, China is keenly following these developments and preparing its own salvo to offset a possible Japanese dominance in Africa. While the future of these coalitions isn’t sure- what is for certain is that a keenly contested game of chess involving mental and economical dynamics is definitely on between China and Japan.

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