For over twenty years I have watched China progressively evolve as a global giant in manufacturing, exports, energy, infrastructure, and technology.
China’s evolution has happened as US, Europe and Russia were pre-occupied with critical global issues like the war on terror, trade globalization, climate change and recently Ukrainian war.
China is significantly present in economies of Africa, South America, and Central Asia, and to varying extents in the rest of the world.
China belongs to a geopolitical grouping comprising Russia, China and Iran which is opposed to global domination by the West.
In trade, China belongs to BRICS, an intercontinental economic bloc which includes Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa.
In Central Asia, China is a significant economic and infrastructure participant. The war in Ukraine has definitely upped China’s role as a global balancing force.
The recent trip to China by the leadership of the European Union, France, and Germany is an indication that European countries are eager to ride on opportunities offered by China in investments, trade, and technology, evidence that European nations want to deal with China differently from the USA which has significant issues with China.
The most significant proof of China’s ascendancy to global diplomacy is when it arranged for a handshake between Iran and Saudi Arabia, an occurrence of major political and economic significance in the Middle East.
Immediately after the handshake, peace in Yemen is taking shape, as Syrians opened dialogue with other Middle East countries.
China’s overriding influence in the Middle East will definitely strengthen China’s share of energy resources and investments.
Saudis have already committed investments in a huge refinery and chemicals plant in China.
What does all this mean for Africa and Kenya? China is already firmly in Africa by way of trade, natural resources and infrastructure development and funding.
To ward off China, the West is belatedly producing counter offers for development investments in Africa, pegged mostly on political and climate risk assessments.
For maximum benefits, African nations have to smartly navigate through the ongoing tricky geopolitical competition between USA and Europe on one side, and China and Russia on the other.
Specifically for Kenya, we need to balance our bilateral trade with China by increasing exports to China , while importing less of what we can produce.
We also need to resolutely limit Chinese participation in local distribution and retail business, for indeed China should be playing in the global league, not local SMEs and jua kali.
George Wachira is a petroleum consultant, [email protected]