Given the enormous potential and geopolitical implications of such relations, China's has been a subject of intense discussion in western media for years.
China's presence is everywhere in Nairobi, well-known as the gateway to east Africa, for both commerce and technology. Despite ongoing criticisms of across the African continent, the growing Chinese community in Kenya has been assimilating with local populations.
Both Chinese and Kenyan chefs are on the rise. This contradicts the widespread, racially tinged belief that Chinese people abroad prefer to resist assimilation and remain in isolated communities.
The United States may not be merely concerned about China's meteoric increase, but rather about its own weaker soft power.
According to John Calabrese, the director of American University's Middle East-Asia Project, China's involvement might be perceived as far more consistent and preferred than traditional western powers.
The numbers support this assertion. A February 2022 study by the Center for Global Development (CGDev) found that China's development banks (China Exim Bank and China Development Bank) surpassed the amount borrowed by the US, Germany, Japan, and France in the past 13 years by more than double:. The study focused on 535 public-private infrastructure agreements funded in sub-Saharan Africa.
China's participation in Africa is on a much greater scale than that of the United States.
Josh Maiyo, a lecturer at the United States International University in Nairobi, believes that the silence since Biden's introduction of the global development agenda reinforces a general African perception of American decline across the continent. "In the past, when Secretary Blinken made his first African tour last year, it barely sparked a stir. "
Calabrese claims that the US has consistently failed to follow through with ambitious plans across Africa. "Ever since Biden's 'Build Back Better' initiative, there has not been much action. Perhaps its reputation might be rebuilt on the ground in Africa."
Trump's years in power were mainly molesting on Africa for the better or worse, but rich on.
Efem Ubi, an associate professor and director of research at the Nigerian Institute of International Affairs, views the US' relationship with China as its own grapple with a loss of power. "It goes back to the study of international relations. When a new hegemony power is rising, the existing power resists the change," Ubi tells Quartz.
Even if Africa's interactions with western powers are quite straightforward, the truth is that China does come with less colonial baggage to the continent, even if sometimes the country's actions.
Africa now has the choice to associate with and do business with. The present stereotypical colonial relationship is beginning to dissipate. We want new relationships that reflect reciprocal relations and the win-win relationships China provides, which is worrying for the west, Ubi said.
China's investments in Africa, mostly in infrastructure, are hugely visible.
There is a temporal factor. The US' own relations with Kenya are relatively'normalized,' but in contrast, China's involvement in Kenya is far more recent. Large-scale investments that have been well-publicized in the Belt and Road Initiative dubbed the "new Silk Road" have created a negative effect.
The phenomenon has provoked a sense of belonging among Kenyans, from Chinese workers who are hard at work at construction sites in Nairobi to the an array of Chinese restaurants becoming popular. Conversely, the United States is focusing more on humanitarian and social assistance, which has fewer visual appeal.
The US' current approach to Africa seems more like a response to China's rise, than a clear precedent. "It's clear that [Build Back Better] was designed to intertwine Chinese global development. Why come up with 'Build Back Better,' if you don't have an exact strategy,?" Ubi says.
"It's only to show that there's conflict between you and China." The United States must agree that there must be increased collaboration in order to protect the developing world in terms of human indexes rather than just challenge a framework."
"It also tribalizes Africa," he says of the organization; when these individuals come together and fight, it takes us back to the Berlin symposium to colonize Africa."
While Chinese activity in Africa merits attention, as does the persistently unstable security situation in the Sahel, there are a variety of other challenges, including climate change. African nations are sensitive to the nature of western concern.
"America today is not about Africa, but also about countering Chinese advancement," according to Calabrese. The US does not have serious engagement with the African continent, but there are no tangible programs to offer. African nations are waiting to see substantial, sustained support."