Militarization of Africa
Under George W. Bush, and now Obama, Washington has more openly turned to military means to thwart China’s growing influence in Africa. A separate US military command, AFRICOM, was established in 2007 as a direct response to first China-Africa summit in 2006, to which Beijing invited the head of states of more than 50 countries.
J. Peter Pham, an adviser to the US State and Defense Departments, declared in 2007 that AFRICOM’s aims consisted of “protecting access to hydrocarbons and other strategic resources which Africa has in abundance … and ensuring that no other interested third parties, such as China, India, Japan, or Russia, obtain monopolies or preferential treatment.”
The BRICS summit underscored the fact that the rivalry over Africa is bound up with broader and intensifying global tensions. Ahead of the Durban summit, Russia, the main architect behind BRICS, called for the creation of a Moscow-based joint development bank, with each member contributing $10 billion, to rival the US- and European-dominated World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF).
Russia also proposed a pool of funds, of up to $240 billion, to deal with any financial emergency facing a BRICS member. Brazil said the new bank would foster “greater autonomy from the IMF” and provide an “alternative financial tool” to developing countries.
However, nothing concrete was agreed at the BRICS summit. Russian Finance Minister Anton Siluanov claimed there was “positive movement,” but “no decision on the creation of the bank.” Disagreements reportedly arose over the size of contributions, given that China’s economy is 20 times larger than South Africa’s, and four times bigger than India’s.
Nevertheless, Brazil and China, the two biggest economies in the BRICS, signed a currency swap deal worth $30 billion, covering nearly half their annual trade of $75 billion. That agreement pointed to the emergence of potential rival currency blocs, amid worldwide financial turmoil and the increasingly questionable status of the US dollar as the global trading currency.
By: John Chan