African leaders’ response to US-China tensions over Taiwan shows tilt towards Beijing
A spike in tensions between the United States and China over Taiwan has not gone unnoticed in Africa and has prompted responses that underscore the continent’s tilt toward Beijing.
Washington announced trade talks with Taiwan on Thursday (18 August) following a US congressional delegation’s visit earlier this week that came on the heels of a controversial trip to the self-governing island by US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. The US’ recent interactions with Taipei have infuriated Beijing, leading to Chinese military drills in the seas around the island. During Pelosi’s visit, officials from several African countries condemned the US and publicly supported China.
For example, Eritrea’s government deplored Pelosi’s visit as a „reckless” continuation of US policies marked by “flaws and follies.” For Zimbabwe’s part, the country’s ruling Zanu-PF party also slammed the US for “aggressive conduct” following Pelosi’s visit, with its spokesman saying that “it is cardinal postulate of international diplomacy that there is one China and Taiwan is an integral part of mainland China.” Also the foreign minister of the Democratic Republic of Congo expressed firm support for the one-China policy. As for Somalia, it was also one of the countries that came out strongly on China’s side during Pelosi’s visit.
Chinese state media were quick to publicize such support from African governments with an article in the China Daily headlined: “Africans See Through US Ploy in Pelosi Visit.” Another article on CGTN listed all the Africa officials who’d sided with Beijing. Since the Belt and Road Initiative, President Xi Jinping’s global infrastructure project, came to Africa along with Chinese loans and investments, more countries have switched ties to Beijing, with Burkina Faso — the second-to-last supporter of Taiwan on the continent — choosing to sever ties with Taipei in 2018. Thus, it seems that, in the latest spat between both powers, most African nations stand firmly with Beijing, loath to alienate the world’s second-largest economy and Africa’s largest trade partner.