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Why China Should Consolidate its world Position

By Ofwono Opondo
 April, 4, 18  
President Donald J. Trump last month said that trade wars are “good” and in many of his tweets boasted that they were “easy to win,” little knowing that since the fall of the Berlin Wall, and Soviet Union demise, the world had changed remarkably. Although the US emerged as the dominant power, its brutal military, and imperial prowess often enforced through unbridled arrogance has steadily been eroded. 
Uncle Sam’s decline is seen at home, and on world stage, where its leaders today are un-ashamed, crying loudly that the Russians propped Trump into victory in the 2016 presidential elections, forgetting, they did far worse, for so long, subverting legitimate governments to install brutal and corrupt puppets in Latin America, Africa and Middle East. Through the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), Marines, USAID, and surrogate institutions like the UN, World Bank and IMF, they have brought more misery to the world than perhaps slave trade and colonialism combined. The US is today embroiled in un-ending wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria that have become a stalemate. And the ‘rise’ and populism of Trump is a failing attempt to make ‘America great again’, and so, it shouldn’t be surprising when the US lurches on Russia and China as the main problems of the world.   
Unfortunately, the attempts to frame an international negative narrative especially against China is failing  because China’s rise and penetration of emerging global markets including in Africa, is offering, for the first time, glimmers of hope for durable security, political stability, and economic transformation. Africa is building electricity, transportation and ICT connectivity to transform using its abundant natural resources which Europeans were simply plundering away, leaving Africa in darkness as they had found it. The ongoing transformation will make Africa an industrial hub connect and trade with the rest of the world, rather than remain a spectator it has been since its first contact with Arabs and Europeans.
At the start of China’s aggressive financial support and economic investments in Africa without attaching political strings fifteen years ago, the US and its EU allies claimed that China would bolster political dictators and human rights abuses in Africa. Now, those dictators which the US sought to use as scarecrows so that Africans shun Chinese friendship, money and investments hasn’t come true.
To the contrary, Africa is stable, democratizing, human rights is being observed, and economic transformation is taking place on genuine foundation and faster pace than when the US and Europeans, the presumed beacons of civilisation, social enlightenment, scientific and technological innovation,  and economic progress ruled us.
So, it was good that China this week responded to Trump’s arrogance with retaliatory measures slapping $3 billion worth of tariffs on exports, demonstrating it can make good on its trade threats. The emerging investment and trade disputes, instigated by Trump, should provide Africa with a good opportunity particularly selling valuable and processed products in China, while the later transfers critical intellectual rights and appropriate technologies. 
The Chinese tariffs that came into effect on Monday this week, hit 128 products ranges from pork, meat, wines, nuts and fruits to steel pipes, should be good if only Africans could quickly fill the gap. Unfortunately, since the first Sino-Afro summit held many years ago, most African countries including Uganda haven’t positioned themselves to fully take the available opportunities. 
The forthcoming Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) in Beijing provides another opportunity to deepen cooperation in infrastructure development, debt relief, industrialisation, investment promotion, market access expansion, agriculture, research in science and technology, health and education, and people-to-people relations. The COMESA, EAC and SADC bloc under the Tripartite Free Trade Area (TFTA) should show-case its major investment portfolios.
The modest Chinese investments in Uganda so far including the recently launched Liaoshen Industrial Park in Kapeeka, and Mbale Industrial Park are good pointers as how many countries could proceed. Covering 600 acres, Liaoshen Industrial Park is expected to accommodate 80 industries with total investment of $600m and employ up to 16,000 people by 2025. Mbale Industrial Park, measuring 619 acres, will create 15,000 jobs in the long run. These industrial parks, if expanded and fully operationalised will create more jobs, revenue, and reduce our import bill, while also improving our export revenues.
China's low-cost competitiveness is working not only for China but other developing countries too because its products are cheaper. The US products are expensive, and consequently the reason Trump is forcing African countries to take in already used goods like used shoes, and apparel among others. China’s economy grew at 10 percent annually for the three decades before the recession of 2008. Now it's growing at 7 percent, which many economists say is a more sustainable rate. Today, China is the largest economy in the world, outpacing the US and EU. It holds $1.17 trillion, (19%) of the $6.26 trillion of US debt stock in Treasury bills, notes, and bonds held by foreign countries as of January 2018. China is the world's biggest exporter as it seeks to raise the standards of living for its 1.4 billion citizens, and Africa, can have a win in this too.