Washington — China's business and development model in Africa differs sharply from that of the United States, as it is offering African countries a broader relationship, U.S. experts said Tuesday.
As China is increasingly growing its business ties with Africa, it has in recent years gone from a country that simply expressed solidarity with the victims of colonialism to a major power providing big business deals and development projects, the experts told a panel discussion at the think-tank Center for American Progress.
While the United States has lost much of its prior interests in Africa after the end of the Cold War, China has enhanced its relationship with Africa thanks to increasing trade ties with the continent, they said.
The experts noted that unlike the United States, China is using a pragmatic new model that seeks to do business with all comers while not making it conditional.
At the same time, China also offers African countries a broader relationship than the United States.
"There's this whole package strategy that China brings which is very attractive in a ...one-stop shop kind of way," said Joshua Eisenman, a senior fellow in China studies at the American Foreign Policy Council.
"It allows you to...establish a wide breadth of a relationship... I get the sense that's not really possible in Washington," Eisenman added.
To establish that kind of broad relationship with the United States would require meeting with a lot more people and there would be many coordination problems, he said.
Eisenman said that working with China is attractive "if you want a project done quickly."
Daniel Runde, director of the Project on Prosperity and Development at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, said that while the United States is in many ways a more attractive model, the downside is that "we are much slower and harder to deal with."
"China is now the largest trading partner to Africa, and so I think one of the questions is how do we become a better trading partner," he said.
"We have a very limited presence in Africa compared to, say, developed countries, and so I think this is also something that we need to keep in mind," Runde added.