August 3, 2021

African states under pressure from China at the UN

To stay up to date on African news, subscribe to the “Monde Afrique” newsletter from this link. Every Saturday at 6 am, find a week of current events and debates treated by the editorial staff of “Monde Afrique”.

When he returned from Sierra Leone in late spring, UN Ambassador Alie Kabba had changed. He, the charismatic politician with presidential ambitions, Minister of Foreign Affairs in 2018 before representing his country at the United Nations a year later, is shot.

Coordinator of the “Committee of Ten” (C10) – a group of ten African countries supposed to defend the position of the African Union (AU) on a possible reform of the Security Council -, Alie Kabba was much more affable a few weeks earlier. He then asked member states to help him convince the permanent members of the Council reluctant to reform. China and Russia are indeed openly opposed to any change, whether it is adding new permanent members or changing the veto power.

Article reserved for our subscribers Read also The United Nations, symbol of global disorder

But in the home stretch of this discussion, annual since 2008, the Sierra Leone ambassador had passed away and was only putting forward dated African positions. ” Everyone understood that he had been pressured by his capital, on orders from Beijing », Loose a European diplomat. This battle over Security Council reform, which ended in June with a status quo and a renewal for 2022, is the latest episode in which China-Africa relations at the UN crystallize.

“A moral debt”

« China is putting pressure on African countries on several levels: on the economy, with trade agreements; on infrastructure financing – something essential for African countries “, Notes Paul Nantulya, China expert at the Africa Center for Strategic Studies, attached to the Pentagon,” Often in return for its support, the Africans of the Council vote the same thing as China ”. But even more than a mirror of Chinafrique, ” the relationship between Beijing and the African continent is particularly asymmetrical at the UN, continue l’expert. Because Beijing may or may not grant diplomatic aid. “

Yet this relationship has not always been so lopsided. If we go back to the history of the United Nations, from 1946 to 1971, it was the Chinese government installed in Taiwan in 1949 which first occupied one of the seats of the P5 (permanent members) on the Security Council.

You have 67.32% of this article left to read. The rest is for subscribers only.