Does Pompeo really want to help African countries?

By Shi Tian Source:Global Times Published: 2020/2/20 21:16:26

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo during a speech in Addis Ababa on February 19, 2020. Photo: AFP

Mike Pompeo has just concluded his first visit to Africa since being appointed as US Secretary of State. His tour of the continent was also the first by an US Cabinet official in 18 months. Regrettably, instead of enhancing US-Africa ties, he has seen this land as a political stage where he could once again smear China. 

"Countries should be wary of authoritarian regimes with empty promises. They breed corruption, dependency," Pompeo said Wednesday in a speech in Ethiopia. Although not mentioning China by name, his target was obvious.

Over the past decade, Africa has gradually grown as a new pole of global economic growth, in which China's supporting role is prominent. In 2019, China-Africa trade exceeded $200 billion, making China Africa's largest trading partner for 11 consecutive years. According to a McKinsey report, China has been helping "accelerate the progress of Africa's economies" and "no other country matches" the depth and breadth of China's engagement in Africa.

In addition to investments, China has generously offered its development experience. Most African countries were deeply influenced by the West back in the colonial period. Since their independence from colonial rule, they have been struggling to explore their own development paths. As the largest developing country with rapid growth, China's experience has provided other developing countries, especially African countries, with a reference.

For example, Ethiopia, where Pompeo launched his baseless attacks against China, is called by some as "the China of Africa," as it has developed into East Africa's largest economy by benefiting from China's experience to some extent. Undoubtedly, China's model is leading Ethiopia to a correct development path.

Thus, Ethiopians did not buy Pompeo's accusations at all. Abel Abate Demissie, an Ethiopian political analyst, said, "It is undeniable that Chinese investment was quite crucial in keeping Ethiopia on track as one of the world's fastest-growing economies for many years."

Witnessing China's growing influence in the world and the success of the Chinese model, Washington has clearly been sitting on thorns. The US' constant attacks against China in terms of African affairs are only a display of exasperation.

But how can Africans trust the US? President Donald Trump once straightforwardly called some underdeveloped African countries "shitholes." Since assuming office, his administration has cut aid to Africa and imposed a travel ban on some African countries. It seems Washington's attention on Africa can only be observed from its continued accusations against China's African engagement.

Even US experts cannot stand the Trump administration's moves. Johnnie Carson, senior adviser to the US Institute of Peace, said in September 2019: "Our policies should not be focused around countering what other people are doing in Africa. It should be focused on building and strengthening our partnership."

Which country's promises are pragmatic and whose are "empty?" Facts can speak for themselves, and it is believed that the people of Africa have sharp eyes. The US should also be aware that only Africans themselves have the right to decide whether and how to cooperate with and learn from China. The preaching of Pompeo and his colleagues can never change Africans' own decisions. Their mind-set which allows ideology in demand will only throw the world into chaos.

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