Will competition between the United States and China contribute to corruption in poor countries?


During the Cold War, developing country or Third World leaders took advantage of the competition between the West and the Soviet Union to enrich themselves.

Both the Soviet and the West have poured billions of dollars into poorly governed developing countries in the form of aid, and sometimes military aid. This has resulted in an incredible misuse of global resources.

Still, resources continued to flow, even when it became clear that development aid could not produce development. Humanitarian aid could not cope with poverty. Military aid supported bad governments, and much of the aid was put in the pockets of corrupt elites.

Great power competition could not be blamed on many of the problems currently plagued developing countries, but it nevertheless extended the life of bad governance.

Why this happened can be explained by US President Franklin Roosevelt’s comments on US support for Nicaragua’s President Anastasia Somoza. [expletive], But he is our son [expletive].. “

When the fall of the Berlin Wall finally depleted the source of aid, it inadvertently produced many positive consequences.

The corrupt and incompetent governments of developing countries have collapsed, and the huge development aid industry that grew during the Cold War has declined.

Dismantling these aid bureaucracy reveals decades of failure to produce the “development” they promised, which also saved billions of dollars for western taxpayers.

Epoch Times Photo
Children are enjoying the clean water from a well built by an African water well in the village of Rupapa, Malawi on July 6, 2021. (John Fredricks / Epoch Times)

However, two events in November (one in Senegal and one in the Solomon Islands) seem to show that the elite of developing countries believe they can once again participate in the competition of the great powers.

This time, the competition between the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and democracies is intensifying, which seems to be supporting the revival of the aid industry.

The state of competition between Beijing and Washington, DC was exhibited when US Secretary of State Antony Blinken visited Senegal in November and during the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) in Dakar a week later. rice field.

Senegal’s Foreign Minister Aisata Tal Sole pointed out that Africa could and would allow the West and the Chinese Communist Party to fight each other, telling US officials: There is more than one choice. There are many options. “

The FOCAC Senegalese Conference has revealed much about Beijing’s approach to competing with the West in the context of Africa. The CCP successfully promoted the main agenda at FOCAC, but balanced these with an understanding of African perceptions.

Beijing sympathized with the belief among African leaders that other parts of the world did not take the continent seriously, and emphasized that the FOCAC was a meeting among equals.

Beijing, in response to the frustration of African leaders, spoke of China as a developing country in Asia and effectively played its own version of the race card.

The conference also promoted the importance of China’s capital, skills and aid for the benefit of Africa. Chinese leaders have also promised a new market for agriculture in Africa, provided free COVID-19 vaccines, and promised access to world capital.

Chinese leaders may also talk about African elite sovereignty, but to ensure that Chinese money continues to flow into their pockets, for example under the Belt and Road Initiative, for development projects. I know I’m willing to sign it.

As a new empire player, the CCP has shown how he learned to play the same bargaining games that previous European leaders did.

Epoch Times Photo
During the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) meeting at Diamniadio in Dakar, Senegal on November 29, 2021, security guards passed the flag at the entrance to the conference hall. (Seyllou / AFP via Getty Images)

Nevertheless, there is still a tension between the CCP and the African goals.

African leaders wanted to increase the local workforce involved in China-sponsored development projects, but Beijing stopped making this pledge. China’s projects have focused more on promoting the export of resources from the continent than on domestic development.

In addition, some African leaders are calling for a return to the “Cold War style” aid that is being poured into their pockets, but Beijing really needs that project to succeed.

Over time, it will be known whether FOCAC can realize a new colonial empire of CCP, or whether it creates another legacy of failed states and corruption. Neither is good for the world.

On the other side of the globe, political violence broke out in the Solomon Islands of the South Seas. An example of how destructive development assistance is.

Solomon’s violence was partially triggered by Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavale’s decision to switch formal diplomatic relations from Taiwan to Beijing, one of the few countries in the world to maintain formal diplomatic relations with the Republic of China. ..

Beijing provided the Sogavale government with $ 500 million in development assistance to break its ties with Taiwan.

In the microstate, $ 500 million can easily change the balance of power among local politicians by empowering one support network to the other.

The shift from Taipei to Beijing has destabilized the country’s political structure as the closure of the Taiwanese embassy also put an end to Taiwan’s aid.

Epoch Times Photo
On November 27, 2021, an anti-government message is displayed on a burnt-out building in Honiara, Solomon Islands. (Charley Piringi / AFP via Getty Images)

The losers were those who were tied to the network sponsored by Malaita Prime Minister Daniel Suidani.

The Suidani network lost Taiwan’s aid, but the Sogavale’s network won in the transition to Beijing’s aid.

Unsurprisingly, Suidani sought to restore relations with Taipei and end relations with Beijing. Political violence began when supporters of Suidani complained.

Solomon’s violence shows how development aid linked to international competition is carried out in a destructive way.

There are warnings for events in both Senegal and Solomon. It shows that leaders in developing countries may be keen to re-enter the competition of the great powers.

When in trouble, this can pour billions or trillions into developing countries and exacerbate already corrupt countries. This, in turn, can cause a wave of migration to developed countries.

The final message to a democracy is: be careful.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.

Eric Law


Eric Louw is a retired professor of political communication with a background spanning universities in South Africa and Australia. Prior to that, he was a former activist, journalist and media trainer at the African National Congress, working on the transition to the post-apartheid era in South Africa. Louw is an expert in affirmative action and Black Economic Empowerment Policy. His PhD was in the study of Marxism and its postmodern development. He has authored nine books, including “The Rise and Fall of Apartheid and the Legacy” and “Media and the Political Process.”