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The Maastricht Diplomat

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[AP] Chinese influence looms at African Union talks on Belt and Road Initiative

Chinese influence in African states grew increasingly apparent on Friday afternoon as talks within the African Union (AU) for continued relations with Beijing dawdled. 

Friday marked the second day of negotiations in Addis Ababa among the states of the AU, discussing the modalities of a continued cooperation with China in the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). The main points of conversation revolved around the partition of Chinese and African workers, the integration of a knowledge transfer to less experienced African workers, modernization, and more broadly how to re-establish Africa as a relevant player in the Western investment scheme. 

Observers said insurmountable trauma made conversations difficult, and diverging sentiments towards China emerged. The delegation of Eswatini appeared as a loud minority voice criticizing African dependance on the People’s Republic. 

“Eswatini is being more destructive rather than productive,” one source disclosed. Another delegation accused the Southern African nation of making its own political prerogatives and barriers to foreign collaboration a problem for the entire union. 

Sources also shed further insight on the other fronts making up the current ideological landscape of the debate. Djibouti’s delegation reportedly took up the mantle as the main opposition to Eswatini, leading a loose coalition with Rwanda, Ethiopia, and other states who see the benefits in a Chinese collaboration, notwithstanding the economic dependency it has created. 

Eritrea also offered the example of functioning relations between Taiwan and Africa, specifically Eswatini, demonstrating the hypocrisy of the latter. 

This second main current is flanked on another front by South Africa, who sparked debate earlier with a proposal to lower taxes, and Nigeria, lobbying for the imposition of a debt quota in relation to states’ gross domestic product (which sources have criticized as being “imprecise”). 

Mauritius appeared as a model to countries opposed to collaboration with China, as it hasn’t joined BRI due to its Indian relations but said it was open to dialogue. 

During informal debates, all delegates joined shoulder to shoulder to discuss the points. Ultimately, historical stances on China’s involvement in the AU will have to be set aside to allow any collaboration, analysts commented.

EuroMUN Committee: African Union (AU)


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