Why Africa will look east

Tony Blair has made much of his Africa policy, but Hamish McCrae offers a convincing argument in the Independent that the continent will prefer to look towards the Asian model.

Some 18 months ago the economics team at Goldman Sachs produced a report on the economic prospects of Brazil, Russia, India and China – a group it dubbed the BRICs. It pointed out that if its assumptions were correct, China would become the world’s largest economy by 2050, passing the US, while India would be number three, passing Japan. For the first time this year, the BRICs have been invited (by the UK as host) to the 4 February G7 economic meetings, a move that reflects their growing status. The Chinese economy is already larger than Italy’s and it is possible that this year will be the moment when China passes the UK in terms of its total GDP, though it may have to wait until 2006.

Chiana’s growing economic strength has clear geo-politcal implications, some of which are spelt out in this analysis by world system theorist Immanual Wallerstein.

China’s main card today is the economic card. It is a rising economic power. How powerful it might come to be is as yet unsure. But it is patiently expanding its role. A Chinese firm has just bought out IBM’s personal computer division and is now the third largest firm in the world. China is a mainstay of the U.S. dollar by investing in U.S. treasury bonds. This gives China more economic control over the U.S. than vice versa, since a withdrawal of these investments or even a rapid lessening of their extent could wreak economic havoc on the U.S. China has cultivated excellent relationships with Iran, which enhances its needed access to petroleum.






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