GOOD MORNING FROM LONDON
This Column has highlighted the worldwide significance of the rise of China and the consequences to the West. One of the new areas of focus is the Horn of Africa. On 21 June 2022, China hosted the first Horn of Africa Peace Conference in Ethiopia + triggered a West fightback with Britain, US and Finland quickly upgrading their diplomatic representatives in response
The Horn of Africa is strategically important as the primary entry point to both the Red Sea + the Gulf of Aden, home to major ports and sea lanes, as well as the military bases of several nations, including the US and China (Djibouti) However, the region – covering Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, South Sudan and Sudan – has long been racked by civil war, Islamist insurgencies and military interventions.
But even as conflict threatens investments in the region, China has been making inroads – mainly under its now trillion-dollar Belt and Road Initiative. It has invested in Djibouti’s maritime sector, as well as in Ethiopia, notably in building the Addis Ababa-Djibouti Railway, and also funded a massive US$4.7 billion railway line in Kenya.
Along with Trade and Investment, China offers arms sales, troop training, medical assistance and anti-piracy drills. By linking security and economic interests, China provides significant leverage + advantage over the Western countries.
But the significance is greater. The area represents key African real estate, stretching from the Indian Ocean to the Gulf of Aden and Bab-el-Mandeb Strait to the Red Sea: a passageway for more than 10% of global commodities and 30% of European energy supplies. It is part of the international geopolitical shift in power + influence.