A top diplomat under President Trump has sounded the alarm on China’s pursuit for global dominance. On Friday, former U.S. Ambassador-at-Large for International Freedom Sam Brownback warned China is using its One Belt One Road (OBOR) initiative in Africa to leverage its economic power in order to phase America out of the international stage. Brownback added U.S. lawmakers need to move fast to secure America’s position as top superpower.
China began pumping billions of dollars into Africa’s infrastructure beginning as early as the year 2000, before the Chinese Communist Party head, Xi Jingping, officially announced the initiative in 2013. The program aimed to bolster China’s relationships with several countries including Ethiopia, South Africa, Nigeria, Rwanda and Kenya.
Additionally, the CCP’s funds helped develop infrastructure projects such as transportation networks, port facilities and telecommunications infrastructure.
“They want that model of authoritarian control to expand around the world and they’re playing big in Africa. That hurts us if you get more countries going to this authoritarian model,” said Brownback. “Plus, there’s just the raw resource issue that China has been after for decades now in Africa, tying up these raw resources for their global economic dominance that they seek.”
Chinese leaders touted the One Belt One Road initiative as a path towards establishing strong economic partnerships. However, Brownback argued China aims to exploit the region’s natural resources and lay down its authoritarian roots in the region, hoping to spread its influence throughout the world.
Experts have suggested the initiative has lost traction amid commodity prices plaguing African countries’ economies before the pandemic, and the near total halt of economic activity once COVID-19 struck their communities. Researchers say this is hindering African leaders’ abilities to pay off their debts to China.
Studies have predicted this could buy time for other superpowers to undermine China’s influence. Brownback stressed America needs to take steps to challenge China’s role in the region and promote religious, economic and personal freedom in Africa.
In the meantime, the former ambassador said he believes the American public will welcome this approach, as long as policy makers promote these ideals without acting as state builders.