African continent is no place for Japan-China rivalry

By Hu Weijia Source:Global Times Published: 2019/9/1 20:03:40

China has no intention of making Africa a forward position for a jostle with Japan, but any Japanese provocation against China is a dangerous game.

A three-day conference attended by top leaders of more than 40 African countries concluded recently in Yokohama, Japan, where Prime Minister Shinzo Abe warned Africa against accumulating too much debt. What was the target of Abe's words? Many believe he was trying to provoke disputes between Africa and China, as the latter's lending has been described by some in the West as "debt-trap diplomacy."

While Abe warned Africa about debt, he encouraged Japanese investors to lend more to projects in Africa. According to the Japan Times, Abe on Wednesday pledged to aggressively promote private-sector investment in Africa, although he failed to set a new numerical target on funds to be funneled to the continent.

China is a key factor in Japan's Africa policy. This may explain why there is an inherent contradiction in Abe's words. He warned about debt because he wants to reduce China's business presence in Africa, but he is also trying to increase Japan's influence by lending more to the continent. Japan's policy on Africa may make the continent a new strategic tool of geopolitical competition with China.

Abe said that he hopes to cooperate with African countries to safeguard the Indo-Pacific, which connects Africa and Japan, according to the Japan Times. It seems Japan is not only a supporter of the US-led Indo-Pacific strategy, but it also wants to play an important role in the strategy, or even replace US leadership and take the helm, pushing it forward in line with Japan's own national interests. China is always glad to see Africa building diversified cooperation partnerships with different countries including Japan. China hopes Africa's economic cooperation with China and Japan can be complementary. However, Japan's policy makes that almost impossible. Japan's strategy has a tendency to contain China. 

China is unlikely to turn a blind eye to Japan's implicit hostility. We advise Japan to rethink its strategy on Africa and make sure that its own presence in Africa, along with other countries', can coexist in harmony instead of clashing. If Japan deliberately adopts a strategy to counter China's influence, this will work against the interests of Africa and harm regional cooperation.

The author is a reporter with the Global Times.


blog comments powered by Disqus