While the White House is breaking with the lack of interest in Africa that characterized the Trump years and is trying to strengthen its influence there, Beijing is setting its communication apparatus in motion to try to assert its superiority on the continent.
As US Secretary of State Antony Blinken continued his second tour of Africa since taking office, the Chinese public television channel CGTN, which reports directly to the Chinese Communist Party, published a poll on August 11 presenting the middle empire as the undisputed locomotive of the global economy, especially in the eyes of Africans.
This survey conducted by CGTN Think tank and the Chinese Institute of Public Opinion, attached to Renmin University of China, ensures that 91.46% of respondents in Africa believe that “China has become the engine of the world economy”. The rate of respondents who recognize the supremacy of the Chinese economy over those of the other great powers, would also amount to 81.6% in Europe and even 78.09% in North America.
The same poll also states that 73.87% of respondents in Africa said they were “impressed with the 5G networks deployed by China”, while 55.28% praised the high-speed rail networks made by companies. Chinese.
Only 8% of Africans surveyed, on the other hand, believed that China is taking their country into a “debt trap”, in reference to accusations by some NGOs and Western officials that Beijing generously grants loans to African countries. to put pressure on them or force them to give up control of certain valuable assets when they can no longer repay.
A multipolar world
According to the same survey, the overwhelming majority of respondents have a positive impression of the Chinese people, whom they consider to be “hard-working” and “motivated” (84.42% of Africans and 71.18% of Europeans).
In addition, 57.36% of all respondents in 22 countries across all continents, including the United States, United Kingdom, Nigeria, Egypt, South Africa, Kenya, Japan, India, Germany and France endorse China’s “realistic and practical” approach to human rights that human rights “should not be divorced from the realities and development stages of each country “.
On another level, about 13% of those polled think that in the future the world will be unipolar, dominated either by China (6.99%) or by the United States (6.3%), while 17 .05% predict a bipolar world dominated by both China and the United States. 29.48% believe that the world will be tripolar (China, United States, European Union) and 34.55% expect the world to become multipolar.
The full version of this survey cannot be found on the website or social media of CGTN TV channel, CGTN Think tank or Chinese Institute of Public Opinion. There are therefore very few details on the methodology used.
The only information made public concerns the average age of the people surveyed (38.64 years on average) as well as their country of origin and their level of education (54.71% are university graduates). No details were provided on the size of the sample or its nature (random, representative, stratified, quota method etc.), the types of questions (open, closed), and the types of interview (non-directive). , directive, semi-directive).
Regardless of this lack of details on the methodology used, it seems that the goal sought by the Chinese communication apparatus is to disseminate a discourse that reflects an image of Chinese superiority and that minimizes that of the United States, Beijing’s main adversary.
The publication of the poll comes as Washington shifts its focus on Africa, as illustrated by the US diplomat’s recent African tour, which took him to South Africa, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Rwanda. From Pretoria, Antony Blinken said he wanted “a real partnership between the United States and Africa ».
Simultaneously, Washington unveiled a policy document providing for an overhaul of its sub-Saharan Africa policy “that reinforces the United States’ view that African countries are geostrategic players and essential partners on the most pressing issues of our time, whether promoting an open and stable international system, tackling the effects of climate change, food insecurity and global pandemics, or shaping our technological and economic future”.
Antony Blinken’s tour of the continent comes two weeks after US President Joe Biden announced a US-Africa summit in December 2022 to “demonstrate America’s enduring commitment to Africa and stress the importance of increased cooperation on common global priorities”.
For the African continent, this increased rivalry between the two largest economies on the planet could be beneficial, provided that a more collective and clearer strategy is defined to also take advantage of the multitude of potential international partners.