Turns out the leaks that shall not be named by federal employees have produced a document demonstrating that the State Department is, in fact, paying attention to China’s role in Africa.  The BBC is carrying the story.  Of course, the story also highlights the amusing lack of self-awareness in our own diplomacy.  Take the following from Johnnie Carson, Assistant Secretary for African Affairs:

“China is not in Africa for altruistic reasons,” he says. “China is in Africa primarily for China.”

He adds: “A secondary reason for China’s presence is to secure votes in the United Nations from African countries.”

Well, yes.  Of course, why exactly is the US involved?  Why has anyone been involved with Africa over the years?  To paraphrase The Who, “here comes the new expropriator, same as the old expropriator.”

On the upside, most Africans with whom I interact suffer no illusions about the sudden interest of the Chinese in their continent.  Seems a learning curve has set in . . .

Also interesting here is what appears to be a clear rationale for the apparent silence of the US Government on Chinese expansion in Africa – a set of “tripwires” that would trigger a reaction:

Have they signed military base agreements? Are they training armies? Have they developed intelligence operations? Once these areas start developing then the US will start worrying,” he says.

I would think that we would have an interest in the Chinese locking down rights to arable land, minerals, etc., instead of such narrow concerns for military and intelligence operations, as these resources have strategic value.  But who am I to question State?*

*this, more or less, summarizes State’s attitude toward AID.