Is Google’s blockage of Huawei to its Android updates forcing African countries to choose between US and Chinese technology? Are there any notable developments since the African Continental Free Trade Agreement went into effect? Plus, how do South African companies feel about the US-China trade war? How do events in Sudan, Mexico, Venezuela and Cuba affect Chinese and US engagement and geopolitical interests in those countries? Check out those stories and more in the June edition of the news roundup! 📰
Every two weeks, The Carter Center’s China Program releases an overview of major events involving Chinese and US global engagement, with a particular focus on emerging issues in Africa and Latin America. In addition to using news sources, the news roundup will analyze papers and reports from academic journals, governmental bodies, and NGOs, and will also summarize debates and other events organized by think tanks on select issues. The news roundup is intended to be a platform and resource for both China watchers and for readers interested in political and economic development in developing countries. It aims to deepen the understanding of China’s foreign policy, and emerging issues and trends in developing countries, as well as to enhance the prospect of multinational cooperation among China, the U.S., Africa and Latin America.
Why Huawei’s Google Woes Worry Africa?
(Dickens Olewe, BBC News, 26 May 2019)
Google’s blockage of Huawei’s access to its Android updates seems that it is forcing African countries to choose between US and Chinese technology. Huawei is not only a major seller of smartphones in Africa, but also an important partner as it has built most of Africa’s 4G internet network and has established a good relationship with African governments. Despite cybersecurity suspicion, there is no evidence that Huawei’s computer system was hacked. Scholars suggest that instead of picking a side, African countries should develop their own technologies. African countries using China’s closed internet model present difficulties, and some experts are concerned about Africa’s reliance on Chinese investment in technology.
China Set to Cash in on New African Free Trade Agreement
(Chris Devonshire-Ellis, China Briefing, 27 May 2019)
On May 30, the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) will go into effect. China helped to negotiate the deal using its diplomatic, political, and economic influence. Ultimately, 52 out of 55 African countries signed on to the deal-although Nigeria (the biggest economy in Africa) is a key exception. The AfCFTA will incentivize more Chinese companies to work and invest in Africa because they can benefit from low tariff trade with other African countries.
Africa’s new-found fondness for hair extension offers cover to Xuchang, China’s hub for wigs and weaves, as US tariffs loom
(Yujing Liu, South China Morning Post, 25 May 2019)
As the US-China trade war continues to intensify, the Xuchang wig industry in Hunan is shifting its focus on exports from the US to Africa. The Trump administration could soon impose a 25% tariff on wigs and other human hair products entering the US from China. Human hair product exports to the US account for 39 percent of the market share. Because of rising living standards, growing e-commerce, and the BRI, exports to Africa have grown to a 37 percent share of the market, up from 30 percent 8 years ago. Factories in Xuchang are shifting their focus to trade with Africa due to the perception that the trade war with the US is becoming more serious each day. Companies are looking to set up factories in Africa and expand into the continent’s e-commerce.
South Africa Is Collateral Damage in U.S.-China Trade War
(Roxanne Henderson and Amogelang Mbatha, Bloomberg, 23 May 2019)
The US-China trade war is harming South Africa’s financial companies and inducing fears about the economy’s future. South Africa is an open economy which sells to the global demand, so the trade war has affected it even though South Africa is not directly involved. The South African Reserve Bank has curtailed the full-year economic growth forecast. Liberty Holdings Ltd, a South African investment company, has reported that the trade war is causing fears about equity prices, which is harming their business.
The UNESCO-Africa-China Forum on World Heritage Capacity Building and Cooperation
(UNESCO Documents, 2 June 2019)
In order to protect the World Heritage sites in Africa, UNESCO is collaborating with Africa and China to host this forum. It is guided by the United Nations’ Agenda 2030 on Sustainable Development Goals and the Africa Union’s Agenda 2063. The objective of the Forum is to establish a platform for Africa and China to identify the challenges and opportunities of sustainable development, strengthen South-South cooperation, ensure that development projects do not affect World heritage sites, and facilitate policy conversations. The Forum expects that UNESCO-Africa-China would announce a joint declaration on heritage protection, implement 10 cases in culture and nature, enhance visits and training, and publish more scientific journals regarding Chinese and African heritage studies.
USAFRICOM hosts APORA 2019
(Master Sgt Andy Kin, U.S. Air Force, 29 May 2019)
On May 20-23, US Africa Command hosted the 7th Semi-Annual African Partner Outbreak Response Alliance in Kigali, Rwanda. The conference was established after the 2014 Ebola outbreak in West Africa and aims to provide partner nations with training to give them the tools to prevent, detect, and respond to emerging infectious diseases. Through sharing best practices, 27 African nations and the US government discussed current challenges, identified needs, and worked to promote regional stability. In breakout groups, African nations exchanged ideas about what a coordinated, regional response to an outbreak could look like.
China, Russia block UN action on Sudan
(MSN/AFP, 5 June 2019)
China firmly objected to the text of the press statement , while Russia called for a response from the African Union. The initiative was led by Britain and Germany, in concert with UN envoy Nicholas Haysom who has been working with the African Union Peace and Security Council on a solution to the crisis. Britain and France circulated a press statement calling on further negotiation between Sudan’s military rulers and protesters. Finally, Belgium, Britain, France, Germany, Italy, Poland, The Netherlands and Sweden proposed a statement calling for a transfer of power from the military to civilian-led government.
China, Mexico Signal Willingness to Step Up Trade Talks with U.S.
(Josh Zumbrun and Yoko Kubota, The Wall Street Journal, 2 June 2019)
On Sunday, China released a white paper on its position on economic and trade consultations with US, but it suggested that cooperation is the only correct choice. The policy paper reiterated that the US must remove “all additional tariffs” of Chinese exports, give a “realistic” number of Chinese purchases of US exports, and write a “balanced” text of final agreement. As the G20 Summit 2019 will be held on June 28 and 29 in Japan, a meeting between Mr. Trump and President Xi Jinping might be possible. Meanwhile, Mexico sent a delegation to the US after Trump threatened to impose tariffs on all Mexican imports last week. The tariffs on Mexican goods are used to restrict migrants into the US, which could harm the new trade agreement signed by the US, Mexica, and Canada in October 2018.
U.S. Imposes New Travel Curbs on Cuba
(José de Córdoba and Ian Talley, The Wall Street Journal, 4 June 2019)
Venezuela crisis: Four million have fled the country, UN says
(BBC News, 7 June 2019)
More than four million Venezuelans have fled their country given rise to economic and humanitarian crisis, UN agencies say. The conflict between the government and opposition has aggravated the situation. Latin American and Caribbean countries hosting the Venezuelans ask for international help. Under the government of Nicolás Maduro, the Venezuelans are facing shortages of food, medicine, fuel and electricity, but the government blames them on US sanctions.