Balancing between Beijing and Washington

By: J. M. Kaindii, Jr.

The Perspective
Atlanta, Georgia
October 30, 2007


The twentieth century was so cold that it frozen several aggressive leaders of Africa and the rest of the underdeveloped world. The bipolar power rivalry characterized by the cold war tormented the ordinary peoples in Africa. Liberia was muddied in this crisis by two phrases “genuine non-alignment and self reliance”. It suffices to note here that for decades, Liberia had crept in the shadow of its historic mentor that commanded the frontline in the battle against the alternative of capitalism. Genuine non-alignment and self reliance might have signaled a radical departure in Liberia’s traditional foreign policy orientation. This strange shift might had been viewed as inimical to efforts already in motion to silence the then threatening communist trumpet.

The 1990s however punctuated the cold war storm that symbolized the rivalry between capitalism and communism. Interestingly, communism did not die in-to-to with the cold war. It left a challenging cadet in the Asian Pacific that is creating a comparable world of power and influence through aid that resembles a contemporary rebirth of bipolarity. Foreign aid was at the core lubricating the engine of rivalry between East and West.

Today, like yesterday, least developed regions in Africa and the world have remained in focus not only for the show of power and influence, but for the exploitation of their vital and untapped material resources while striving to cultivate the phenomenal concepts of democracy and good governance. In this gloomy cloud, Africa is painfully surviving awful periods of coup d’tate and gruesome guerrilla rebellions that are wiping away scores of precious innocent lives and ruining millions worth of property.

Liberia is just one of those depressed and war-ravished societies sailing into an unpredictable future. A fragile society characterized by high level youth unemployment, partially rehabilitated and reintegrated disgruntled disarmed and demobilized former combatants, collapsed social and economic infrastructure, huge impoverished repatriated refugees and internally displaced persons, massively illiterate and desperate population, unscrupulous political gangsters and nefarious economic fortune hunters. This is the critical future of Liberia today.

These existing realities in Liberia have made the Country not only vulnerable, but highly desperate for external economic and technical aids from whatever legal sources. It is at this critical juncture in Liberia’s political existence that China, carving a new legacy of communism, is fully surfacing with resounding hopes for massive private sector investment for employment opportunities and sustainable public sector empowerment.

The accumulative effects of these Asian aggressive initiatives may be an envious socio-economic growth and development in Liberia that may heavily impact Liberia’s foreign policy action, which may be interpreted as a resurgence of genuine non-alignment and self-reliance philosophy. This implies that the extent to which Liberia carve its strategies for the realization of its post-conflict reconstruction, recovery and development agenda, significantly depends on the elements it place on scale to balance between Beijing and Washington. If AFRICOM is headquartered in Liberia, what impact it will have on China-Liberia relations? History is about the past, but can also predict the future.

© 2007 by The Perspective

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