top of page

China-U.S. Africa Strategy in the Era of Great Power Competition

China and the United States are the two largest economies in the world. As rising powers and established powers, their global competition and cooperation not only have a significant impact on each other but also have a strong spillover effect, directly affecting the evolution of the international structure and order.

Africa is a developing continent with prominent and concentrated global problems and a "continent of hope" with rapid economic growth and industrialization.

On May 14, 2021, the US Council on Foreign Relations released the report "Game of Great Powers in Africa", pointing out that the competition of major powers for Africa has become an undeniable geopolitical reality. At the same time, in the field of economy and trade, China is expanding rapidly in Africa.

Africa’s Important Strategic Position in the New Era

The current international system is undergoing profound changes. As the strategic game between China and the United States intensifies, international politics has returned to the era of great power competition.

Africa, a continent where China and the United States have vital interests, maintains a critical strategic position in the competition between major powers in the ever-changing international situation.

The conventional goal of China’s international strategy for its relations with Africa is the goal that China wants to achieve in dealing with major countries in the world, especially Western powers, in the system of China’s African strategy as a “regional strategy.” At the same time, the U.S. strategy toward Africa is focused on geostrategic competition with China and Russia in Africa.

The Huge Resources and Interests of China and the United States in Africa

African countries' rich energy resources and backward industrial development have brought colossal investment and economic benefits to relevant major countries such as China and the United States.

Comparison of major economic indicators between China and the United States in Africa


United States

Trade Volume with Africa (2017)

$170 billion

$55.3 billion

The Stock of Direct Investment in Africa

(As of End 2016)

$39.9 billion

$57.4 billion

Main Investment Target Country

South Africa, Congo (DRC), Zambia, Algeria, Nigeria

Asia, Ethiopia

Nigeria, Mauritius, South Africa, Ghana

Main Investment Industry

Mining, construction, and manufacturing account for about 30% of China's investment in Africa.


​Mining accounts for about 60% of U.S. investment in Africa

Source: The author concluded based on the data released by the Chinese Ministry of Commerce and the US Department of Commerce.

China and the United States have a high degree of overlapping investment in Africa in the mining industry. Due to the preemptive nature of the resource industry, there is competition between China and the United States in developing energy resources in Africa.

China's leading economic and trade partners in Africa, especially the vital source of China's scarce strategic resources, such as Congo (Kinshasa), is an essential source of cobalt and other rare metals needed by China's new energy industry;

Angola ranks third in China's oil imports after Saudi Arabia and Russia; Zambia is China's largest importer of African copper.

China's investment in the countries mentioned above is substantial. As of 2020, these three countries are among the top in China's investment stock in Africa, among which Congo (Kinshasa) ranks second, Zambia ranks third, and Angola ranks fifth.

Today, with the rapid development of electric vehicles, the mining industry in Africa has become a place where Chinese mining giants like CATL and Hainan Mining have invested one after another.

However, Africa's huge interests and limited mineral resources will inevitably bring endless competition and debate. For example, the competition between Chinese and American companies in oil fields in Mozambique and the mine development in Congo (Kinshasa).

African resource-rich countries are important sources of China's scarce strategic resources.

Angola is another resource-rich country that the United States has competed with China in Africa in recent years. Angola has proven oil reserves of 12 billion barrels. In addition, its reserves of iron, manganese, copper, zinc, cobalt, and other resources are also considerable. Some of these rare metals are indispensable for the development of high-tech industries.

In fact, during the Cold War, Angola once became the focus of fierce competition between the United States and the Soviet Union in Africa.

The relationship between China and Angola was very close during the dos Santos period. Especially since the beginning of the 21st century, the economic and trade cooperation between the two countries has developed rapidly.

Angola is one of the African countries that absorb the most Chinese investment, ranking third in all of Africa.

In March 2019, U.S. Deputy Secretary of State John Sullivan officially launched the strategic dialogue between the two countries when he visited Angola and explained the goals of the "U.S. New African Strategy" when meeting with Angolan business leaders. During his visit to Angola in 2020, Pompeo announced that American companies would contribute more than US$2 billion to develop Angolan oil and gas projects.

The United States has multiple considerations in wooing Congo (Kinshasa)

In June 2021, after Biden entered the White House, U.S. National Security Advisor Sullivan and House Speaker Pelosi held talks with Angolan President Lourenco, who was going to the U.S. to attend the U.N. General Assembly, to strengthen relations with Angola. After the outbreak of the Ukraine crisis, the demand for energy in the United States and the West has increased sharply, which has made the relationship between the United States and Security warm up rapidly.

U.S.-China Political Differences Lead To Fierce Competition in Africa

The competition between China and the United States is relatively intense in the political field, and both sides need to strive for African continental political support.

Politically, China emphasizes the executive power of the government, advocates development as a priority, and believes that development is the "key" to resolving conflicts and improving government governance;

The United States emphasizes democratic procedures and strives to consolidate democratic achievements in Africa.

In 2017, China established its first overseas military support base in Djibouti.

In November 2016, according to a survey by the well-known polling agency "Afrobarometer", China became the second most popular country to emulate in Africa after the United States. With strengthening China-Africa exchanges in governance and expanding China's political influence, the United States has also deepened its concerns about China. From a certain point of view, the value dispute has surpassed the actual economic interest dispute. The political concept difference has become the game's focus between China and the United States in Africa.


Disclaimer: All the information on this website is provided on an “as is” and “as available” basis, and you agree to use such information entirely at your own risk. Monisight gives no warranty and accepts no responsibility or liability for the accuracy or completeness of the information and materials contained in this website. Under no circumstances will Monisight be held responsible or liable in any way for any claims, damages, losses, expenses, costs, or liabilities whatsoever (including, without limitation, any direct or indirect damages for loss of profits, business interruption, or loss of information) resulting or arising directly or indirectly from your use of or inability to use this website or any websites linked to it, or from your reliance on the information and material on this website, even if the Monisight has been advised of the possibility of such damages in advance.


Avaliado com 0 de 5 estrelas.
Ainda sem avaliações

Adicione uma avaliação
bottom of page