Seemingly following in China's footsteps, Washington held its first US-Africa Leaders Summit from Monday to Wednesday. China is pleased to see US President Barack Obama sitting with the leaders and government representatives of about 50 African countries, and does not feel threatened by the possibility that warming US-African ties will jeopardize China's interests in that continent.
However, Obama's remarks on the Summit showed his pettiness. He stressed that the US would not just cooperate with African countries for resources, which according to many media outlets, was a criticism of China. Last week in an interview with the Economist, he even said to African countries that they should make sure "the roads [built by Chinese companies] don't just lead from the mine to the port to Shanghai."
The US is a veteran player in Africa, where its influence remains profound. But China, a new player on this continent, has taken the lead in bilateral cooperation compared with that between the US and Africa. Sino-African trade volume jumped to $200 billion in 2013 from $100 billion in 2009, while US-African trade shrunk from $100 billion in 2008 to only $60 billion in 2013.
The surging cooperation between China and Africa has highlighted the energy and future of an equal model of cooperation. It has also manifested the great potential of the Chinese economy. In the meantime, the Western-dominated "transform Africa" approach has become much less popular in Africa.
The Chinese leadership concentrates on bilateral relationships while meeting with African leaders without attacking any third party, especially the US. But the US government leaders have never stopped targeting China.
In fact, the Americans know that China's success in Africa is not pure luck. China's cooperation with Africa is based on a comprehensive and agreeable basis. While the West, especially the US, has clumsily squandered traditional advantages on this land. They speak similar languages and rely on similar political systems, but they don't understand each other in many cases.
China has no wild ambitions on the African continent, and Beijing has never had the intention to include it within its "sphere of influence." Africa has a free choice to cooperate with anyone, and the mindset of a zero-sum game doesn't apply any more in Africa. Many Chinese companies are willing to cooperate with their European and US counterparts, as the latter have more business experience in Africa.
The whole world has to admit that China has been the biggest boost in shifting global attention back to Africa. Without China's rapidly growing cooperation with Africa, many Western countries would probably still be dismissing Africa's massive potential.
Now, when it comes to this promising land, China is much more open-minded and cooperative than the US, which shows much anxiety and a lack of confidence. Washington should reflect on this situation. Holding its tongue when it comes to comments on China will help it to be level-headed.