Leaked Cables Point to Africa's Preference For Untied Chinese Aid

Liberian boys hold up a poster of Hu Jintao, China's president. Photo by: Christopher Herwig / CC-BY-NC-SA

African officials prefer untied Chinese aid over planned U.S.-China development cooperation in Africa because of fears that the latter will slow down the flow of assistance to the region, according to the leaked U.S. cables published by the Guardian.

The confidential cables were among the hundreds of thousands of  documents made public by the whistle-blower website WikiLeaks and several news agencies, including the Guardian and The New York Times.

“Kenyan Ambassador to China Julius Ole Sunkuli said he and other Africans were wary of the U.S.-China dialogue on Africa and felt Africa had nothing to gain from China cooperating with the international donor community,” a portion of the cables stated.

The documents further noted that “Africa was better off thanks to China’s practical, bilateral approach to development assistance and was concerned that this would be changed by ‘Western” interference.’”

South African Minister Plenipotentiary Dave Malcolmson held a similar position, the cables showed. Malcolmson reportedly pointed out that the international community should learn from the European Union’s failed bid for a trilateral development approach in Africa.

The documents also noted that African countries are concerned that the U.S. and other donor countries will use trilateral cooperation deals to attach governance-related conditions to Chinese aid.

About the author

  • Ivy Mungcal

    As former senior staff writer, Ivy Mungcal contributed to several Devex publications. Her focus is on breaking news, and in particular on global aid reform and trends in the United States, Europe, the Caribbean, and the Americas. Before joining Devex in 2009, Ivy produced specialized content for U.S. and U.K.-based business websites.