Josephus Moses Gray, gnnliberia.com
While it is difficult to draw out a definite conclusion, empirically China is posing greater threat to the U.S. influence in Africa, except for other regions such as the Latin America, Asia and Middle East where U.S. commends greater respect.
China and the United States use tools of soft power in different ways and with varying effects. Since the mid-1990s, the PRC has adopted an increasingly active and pragmatic diplomatic approach in Africa that emphasizes complementary economic interests. China’s influence and image have been bolstered through its increasingly open and sophisticated diplomatic corps as well as through prominent PRC-funded infrastructure, public works, and economic investment projects in many African countries; Beijing have diplomatic mission in 49 African countries.
The U.S. international public image is gradually declining on the continent perhaps due to its foreign policies that remain unpopular abroad. The U.S. government has persistently criticized U.S. state diplomacy as being neglectful of smaller countries or of countries and regional issues that are not related to the global war on terrorism.
The United States continues to exert global foreign aid leadership and maintain a major, and much appreciated, aid presence in Central Asia, Africa, the Middle East, and Latin America. U.S. foreign assistance to Southeast Asia has increased markedly since 2001, although most new funding has been directed at counter-terrorism.
The regions with the largest U.S. public diplomacy efforts in terms of funding are Europe/Eurasia and the Western Hemisphere (Latin America and the Carribean). Likewise, the U.S. International Military Education and Training (IMET) program seeks to promote democratic values, mutual understanding, and professional and personal relationships in addition to military capacity.
Many aspects of U.S. social, economic, cultural, academic, technological, and other forms of influence, much of which emanate from the private sector or outside the scope of government, remain unmatched in the world. Many American ideals have long-term, universal appeal, while the United States continues to be a magnet for immigrants and foreign students. Despite a perceived lack of attention among elites, the United States has maintained favorable public image ratings in many African and Latin American countries as well as in the Philippines, a U.S. ally.
The United States and China share the same vital national interests of security and prosperity, although each has a particular additional interest and each defines its interests somewhat differently. Each seeks freedom from fear and want and to preserve its territorial integrity. For the United States, its particular interest lies in value preservation and projection of those values.
China has thus made in-roads into the oil sectors in Nigeria (Africa’s largest oil producer) and Angola (Africa’s second largest producer), which accounts for “13 per cent of China’s crude oil imports”. Other African countries with Chinese oil interests include Gabon, Mauritania, Niger, Equatorial Guinea, Algeria, Liberia, Ghana, Southern Sudan and Chad.
US oil interests are locked into major oil producers such as Nigeria, Angola, Algeria, Gabon, and the “new oil boom states” Chad, Equatorial Guinea, and Sao Tome and Principe. Since most of the oil being discovered is off-shore, it also has the added advantage of being beyond the reach of protesting oil communities on land that are capable of disrupting the oil flow, as had been the case in the restive Nigerian oil-rich Niger Delta since the 1990’s (Obi 2006a: 93-94).
It is fair to argue that the African continent has not traditionally been at the centre of United States of America (USA) foreign policy. Historical links between the U.S. and African countries date back centuries, but significant change in both relations has been the growing concern about the hunt for resources and terrorist activities on the continent, particularly in the Horn of Africa and the Sahel regions. The United States recent re-engaging with the continent indicates that Africa does occupy a central place in US global foreign policy strategy. The US is the world’s largest development aid donor and has programs dedicated to Africa with billions of dollars being spent in various sectors on the continent. ...