Sino-Africa Relations and USA’s Compete Act: US Should Emulate China’s Principle of Mutual Respect.

Admin (Posted on )

By Allawi Ssemanda and Alan Collins Mpewo.

Last week, the United States of America (US) House of Representatives passed an act introducing strong measures to counter what they described as China’s growing relations with African Countries. In the Act entitled “America Competes Act of 2022,” US law makers passed six sections all seeking to counter or undermine China-Africa relations. The subtitle of the Act is also telling: “America Creating Opportunities for Manufacturing, Pre-Eminence, in Technology, and Economic Strength (America Competes) Act of 2022.”  If implemented, this act will see US using Africa based Civil Society organisations, US Global Media Agencies, organisations like Young African Leaders Initiative, USAID, and Mandela Washington Fellowship among others to undermine China’s development cooperation with Africa while promoting US’ primarily to promote Washington’s “Strategic interests in Africa.”

All the above should make us pause some questions such as; where does America Competes Act of 2022 leave African countries’ ambitious infrastructure and other developmental projects?  Is this Act meant to promote African countries interests and independence or America’s? Isn’t this Act against principles of respecting sovereign states legitime interests?

If critically analysed, America Competes Act of 2022 has no interest in promoting Africa’s interests or goals. The Act’s main focus is to weaken China-Africa cooperation and promote US’ “strategic interests” on the continent. Put differently, the Act is meant to help Washington revive its dying hegemony in Africa. The unfortunate part with this is that, it is not the US to miss out but Africa.

For example, section 30271 of America Competes Act of 2022 shows that its main objective is not helping African countries but rather to know how China’s projects and cooperation with African countries is impacting “US’ strategic interests.” The Act directs US secretary of state to submit a report which will guide Congress to counter Sino-Africa cooperation.

Further, section 30276 recommended amendment of “the Electrify Africa Act of 2015 by expanding the statement of U.S policy to include advancing U.S foreign policy.” In other words, US’ house of Representatives wants US’ Electrify Africa Act of 2015 amended to include provisions that promote US’ foreign policy interests in Africa at the expense of African countries. Further, the same section talks of encouraging export of US energy resources that benefits US’ interests stating that the US is committed to helping facilitate the export of U.S. energy resources, technology, and expertise to global markets in a way that benefits the energy security of U.S.”

While it is true that all countries world over act in their own interests, aware that relationship between China and African countries are guided by China’s philosophy of mutual respect and working for a shared future, one can confidently say US’ Competes Act of 2022 whose intent is undermining Sino-Africa relations in favor of Washington’s strategic interests will largely affect African countries whose partnership with China has been praised for addressing Africa’s challenges especially infrastructure sector.

For example, the action plan for the year 2022-2024 produced from November 2021 Forum on China-Africa Co-operation (FOCAC) ministerial conference held Senegal, China renewed her commitment to continue supporting African countries development efforts. Indeed, this Action Plan details how China and African countries will co-operate in the next three years with clear details of projects to be supported through a generated consensus which reflects China’s relationship with African countries – mutual respect and the partnership of equals unlike US’ America Competes Act of 2022 passed by American law makers with no single input of African countries.

 While FOCAC’s 2022-2024 action plan offered a package of $40 billion financial commitments of which $10 billion will be invested in specific sectors, namely; manufacturing industries, agriculture and digital economy which is a big step in empowering African countries and creating China-Africa Community with a shared future, section 30273 of US’ Competes Act requires US president to “establish an interagency Working Group, which shall include representatives of the Department of State, the Department of Defense, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, and other agencieson means to counter Chinese” digital cooperation with Africa. Today, it is an open secret that technology is way to go and China has been building this capacity in a number of African countries Uganda inclusive. Therefore, any country that seeks to derail African countries or divert them from this as US’ Competes Act of 2022 seeks to do is an enemy of the continent.

Also, while section 30272 of US’ Competes Act of 2022 “requires that the Secretary of State, in consultation with the Secretary of the Treasury and Secretary of Commerce, the Attorney General, the U.S. Trade Representative, the USAID Administrator, and the leadership of the U.S. International Development Finance Corporation submit to Congress a report setting forth a multi-year strategy for increasing,” through FOCAC’s 2022-2024 action plan, China has already earmarked $10 of her International Monterey Fund (IMF) drawing rights share to assist development in African countries. Also earmarked is $10 billion will go to supporting trade with aim of boosting African countries exports to China a development expected to increase volume of China’s imports from African countries to a whopping $300 billion while $10 billion has been set aside to facilitate credit lines to African financial institutions to be accessed by several African countries.

If critically analysed, the entire part 4 of Subtitle D of this act does not only seek to promote US’ interests but also seeks to broadly curtail African countries choice on which country to associate with. Put differently, US house of representative meet and passed a law that will covertly decide for African countries who their development partner(s) should be! Even if Washington sugarcoats their act with diplomatic words to make it look pro-Africa, the act is largely political, seeks to expand their geopolitical calculations and in light of principle of State Sovereignty of these African countries, it is against the values of sovereign states.

On contrary, China’s relations with Africa remain bold as they are founded on a principle of mutual respect, mutual benefits and not outright imperialism or ‘ally and master’ like the West’s. It’s arguably clear that China remains resolute to respect State Autonomy and Sovereignty of her African counterparts as the two sides and the U.S should learn from that development in rethinking its mode of presence in Africa.

This principle has been greatly yielding for both China and Africa in context of mutual benefits. Trade, infrastructure, energy, to state the least have a long list of achievements that have emerged from this foundational cornerstone in the few decades China has been actively present in Africa. In fact, new participants in this yielding phenomenon on the African continent have emerged by taking examples of their counterparts, key players involved in the diplomatic relations. But now with the passing of the Competes Act of 2022 by the U.S, a question stands out! How will African countries standout by the time the U.S achieves its intended goals? Africa deserves respect of its independence. Africa deserves relations of mutual respect with whoever its countries choose to engage on the global stage of diplomacy. I think it is high time the US dropped her stance against Sino-Africa relations and join China and Africa in creating a China-US-Africa Community with a shared future and benefits. Dominance is a thing of past!

Allawi Ssemanda and Alan Collins Mpewo are research fellows at Development Watch Centre, a foreign policy think


Development Watch Centre

Kampala - Uganda


Plot 212, RTG Plaza,3rd Floor, Office Number C7 - Hoima Road, Rubaga


+256 703 380252

© DWC - All rights reserved - Cookies Policy - Privacy Policy