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The China Monitor: June 29 – Aug. 2



Chinese and US Engagement with Developing Countries News Roundup
July 29 – August 2

How are fintech companies in China and Africa cooperating? What is the state of trade between China and African nations? How is the United States responding to the Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo? Is ISIS gaining traction in Africa? What is the greatest threat to national security in many African nations? Why are sugar producers in El Salvador suing the government? Find out in this edition of the news roundup.

Flutterwave and Alipay partner on payments between Africa and China
(TechCrunch, 29 July 2019)

San Francisco and Lagos-based fintech startup Flutterwave partnered with Alibaba’s Alipay to offer digital payments between Africa and China. The Flutterwave integration will help Alipay capture transactions and aid African merchants in receiving Chinese customer payments. This will facilitate the $200 billion-valued China-Africa trade. In March, Alibaba announced a $1 million Africa Netpreneur Prize for African startups, while Chinese company Transsion—a top-seller of smartphones in Africa under its Tecno brand—operates an assembly facility in Ethiopia. In July, Chinese-owned Opera raised $50 million in venture spending to support its growing West African digital commercial network. Flutterwave has previously partnered with Visa to launch a consumer payment product for Africa called GetBarter.

‘The Avocado strategy: how Africa aims to rebalance trade with China’
(South China Morning Post, 31 July 2019)

(Credit: Perry Tse)
In June, more than 50 African countries participated in the first China-Africa Economic and Trade Expo to explore greater access to the Chinese market and to reduce the existing trade deficit. As more African countries are trying to graduate from exporting raw materials and move up the export value chain, Beijing committed to increasing China’s imports of non-resource products—particularly value-added agricultural and industrial goods—from African countries. As Africa’s biggest exporter of avocados, Kenya signed an agreement to export avocados and other farm products to China under certain conditions (such as agreeing to chill the avocados, requiring Kenyan farmers to invest in chillers).

“Boost for SA’s economy as China lifts its beef ban”
(IOL, 31 July 2019)

(Credit: IOL)
Just a month after meetings between the Chinese and South African presidents at the G20 summit, China announced that it will almost entirely lift its ban on South African beef, animal skins, and wool imports in response to an outbreak of Foot and Mouth Disease (“FMD”) in January. China sent a team of experts in June to study FMD. The ban remains in place for areas affected in three districts of KwaZulu-Natal province. China imports approximately 2 million tons of beef imports from around the globe, with 10,000 tons coming from South Africa last year.

CDC Renews Pledge to Fight Ebola Outbreak in Africa
(US News & World Report, 1 August 2019)

(Credit: Healthday)
Following the Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, US officials from the CDC reaffirmed their commitment to assisting with efforts to control the virus. Officials also reassured that the risk of the outbreak spreading to the US remains low. The CDC will continue to cooperate with international partners from the UN and WHO in stemming the outbreak, and nearly 300 members have been assigned to the project. Since 2014, over 180,000 people in the Congo have received an Ebola vaccine. Overall risk of global spread of the virus remains low.

US Signals Shift to Africa in Counter-ISIS Coalition Campaign
(The Defense Post, 1 August 2019)

(Credit: The Defense Post)
On Wednesday, the US State Department’s counterterrorism coordinator Nathan Sales stated that international cooperation will be necessary to combat ISIS’s expansion in Africa, Southeast Asia, and Afghanistan. Sales emphasized the increasing lethality of ISIS attacks, referring to attacks on US interests and Nigerian forces. The US is revitalizing cooperation with Sri Lanka, but ISIS threats have also grown in northern and southeast Africa. Meanwhile, the G5 Sahel States (Chad, Burkina Faso, Mali, Mauritania, and Niger) are building the G5 Sahel Joint Force. This force will work alongside counter-terrorist groups from France and the UN.

Somalia President Renounces US Citizenship
(Gulf News, 1 August 2019)

(Credit: Wikipedia Commons, 8 Feb 2017)
Even though the Somali constitution allows for dual citizenship, President Mohammed Abdullahi Mohammed officially renounced his US citizenship on August 1st. No statement was given as to why he gave up his citizenship. Mohammed began preparations to renounce his US citizenship shortly after being elected in 2017. Mohammed previously served as a diplomat for the US State Department and worked in administrative positions in the US. His administration maintains close ties with the US, and the Somali Special Forces continues to receive training from US forces.

US Sanctions Zimbabwe’s Envoy to Tanzania, Anselem Sanyatwe
(The East African, 1 August 2019)

(Credit: Daily Monitor)
Anselem Sanyatwe, Zimbabwe’s ambassador to Tanzania, has been placed on the US’s sanctions list after being accused of commanding troops that fired on protesters last year. The State Department claimed to have evidence that Sanyatwe was involved in the violent suppression of Zimbabweans engaging in post-election protests in August 2018. 6 civilians were killed and another 35 were injured by security forces in the August shooting. US ambassador Brian Nicholas further noted that further violent threats by government officials to quell protest were alarming. Zimbabwe’s Foreign Affairs Minister assured that police were being reoriented to control sit-ins and avoid the need for military deployment.

African Nations, Western Partners Strive to Combat IED Threat
(VOA News, 2 August 2019)

(Credit: Reuters)
The US is cooperating with African nations to train technicians to avoid and defuse improvised explosive devices (IEDs). Currently considered the greatest threat to African nations’ security forces, IEDs are a constantly developing threat to civilians. African governments are now looking to form a united front against the terror groups that deploy IEDs. However, cooperation among different agencies remains limited. It is crucial to national security that police and military agencies from numerous countries can cooperate in diffusing this threat.

Latin America
El Salvador’s sugar producers want to keep Taiwan free trade pact
(Diálogo Chino, 31 July 2019)

(Credit: Pixabay)
Exports from El Salvador to China were worth $83.2 million last year, an increase of 82% from the previous year, making it the sixth biggest destination for El Salvadorian exports. Sugar made up 94.6% of exports to China. In March, the union in charge of sugar production in El Salvador sued the government for cancelling a free trade agreement with Taiwan that included exporting 80,000 tons of sugar to Taiwan. Sugar producers had to face 85% tariffs on Salvadorian sugar exported to China, while Taiwan had levied no tariffs. Increased demand for Salvadorian sugar combined with a lack of regulation on agribusiness has led to increased soil degradation and deforestation in the second most deforested country in Latin America.