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Journal of Public Management & Social Policy

Abstract

Using Pew’s 2013 Global Attitudes Survey data, we probe whether China is beating the U.S. in the battle for Africa’s hearts and minds, whose hearts and minds are being won over, and the potential import for African and Western strategic interests in the region. We find that Africans acknowledge both countries’ contributions as partners in development, have favorable opinions of both countries, and welcome strong ties with both; however, when the choices are stark, their strongest allegiance is to the U.S. Most Africans believe that China will dislodge the U.S. as the world’s superpower. Yet, if China’s African adventure is rooted in its rise as a world economic power eager to spread its influence and culture globally, then the case that China is replacing the West as the dominant international force in the region is exaggerated. Africans reject China’s state capitalism as an appropriate prototype for their countries to emulate. Moreover, Africans tend to find American ideas and cultural trappings more attractive than the Chinese alternatives. This ability to separate ideological concerns from the quest for resources for infrastructural development opens up a new vista of international engagement for Africa. It also calls for a close auditing of what Africa gives up vis-à-vis what it gets back in order to avoid the kind of unbridled regional exploitation by outsiders widely chronicled throughout the Continent’s history.

 

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