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Saturday, July 2, 2022

China wins battle of perception among young Africans

If it is a battle of hearts, minds and pockets – then according to young Africans, China is outperforming the US these days.

A new survey by Johannesburg-based think tank The Ichikovitz Family Foundation found this week that most African youth view China as the most influential foreign player on the continent.

In contrast, American influence has declined by 12% since 2020, according to a survey of more than 4,500 Africans aged 18 to 24 living in 15 countries in Africa.

Seventy percent of young Africans said that China was the “foreign actor” with the most influence on the continent, while the US was given an influence rating of only 67%. In a follow-up question whether that effect was positive or negative, 76% said China was positive, while 72% said the U.S. was positive.

The key reasons surveyed said China’s influence is positive: cheap Chinese products, Beijing’s investment in infrastructure development on the continent, and China’s creation of jobs in African countries.

“In the first edition of the Pan-African Youth Survey we asked young Africans which country they considered to have the greatest influence on the continent and at that time it was without a doubt the United States,” said Ivor Ichikovitz, head of the foundation. Huh. researched.

“This year, two years later, after COVID, the picture is completely different… the most influential country in Africa at the moment is China.”

Ichikowitz told VOA that there are a few reasons for this change.

“(Former President) Donald Trump resonated with African youth. He was seen as a powerful, charismatic leader … and as a result the United States topped the list of the most influential countries in Africa,” he explained.

But mostly, he said, it’s down to investment.

“Young Africans are telling us that they are seeing tangible, visible and very impressive signs of the role that China has played in Africa’s development,” Ichikovitz said.

“Although there has been significant criticism of Chinese investment in Africa, it is very difficult for African governments not to value China because China is providing capital, providing expertise, providing markets at a time when Europe and the Middle East are providing capital. The United States is not,” he said.

The African Union Commission reported that over 40% of the world’s youth are expected to live in Africa over the next decade. The fact that China is helping to create a middle class on the continent means they will also be helping to create one of the largest consumer populations in the world, Ichikowicz said.

However, the study also found some young Africans concerned about whether they were benefiting enough from China’s exploitation of its mineral wealth and natural resources.

Twenty-four percent of those interviewed said Chinese investment in their countries was a form of “economic colonialism”, with 36% of those surveyed saying the Chinese were exporting African resources without proper compensation. Still other interviewees – 21% – said that the Chinese showed a lack of respect for African values ​​and traditions.

Among the countries surveyed was South Africa.

Voniso, a 23-year-old medical student at a busy sidewalk cafe in Johannesburg, told VOA she understood why China came out on top. He said Chinese investment in Africa is important.

However, she had some concerns about Chinese human rights abuses in Xinjiang and said she preferred Western-style democracy.

“Like all social injustices being committed against the Muslim community, socially I would probably put them (China) last,” the student said.

He added that young South Africans are also “a very liberal kind of generation” and “liked America in terms of the liberal nature of doing things.”

However, when it comes to Western-style democracy, only 39% of the youth surveyed said it should be emulated. While the survey found that African youth favor democracy, more than half of those interviewed said a Western type of democracy “is not suitable” and that African countries need a style of governance that suits them.

Talking to a friend outside a mall a short distance away, Thandazani Nyathi, a businessman in his 30s, said he had no preference between the US and China.

“They are both looking for profit. I think I would lean towards a country that wants profit but on the most equitable terms,” he said.

“Whose side in particular am I on? What doesn’t spoil us,” he said, roaring with laughter.

This article is republished from – Voa News – Read the – original article.

World Nation News Desk
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