US Secretary of State Antony Blinken arrives at Lanseria International Airport in Johannesburg on August 7, 2022.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken arrived in South Africa on Sunday, beginning his trip to Africa widely described by US media as a renewed effort to bring back allies and a revival of Cold War-style politics. Although in an attempt to counter the influence of China and Russia, the United States is unable to form a new club to achieve its goal of containing the two countries, given the extensive cooperation between China and the Africa and Russia’s deep engagement in the region, analysts said. .

In addition, African countries like South Africa, which still have new memories of the Cold War and are more focused on their national issues like economic recovery, should take a more balanced and pragmatic stance by not choosing sides between the great powers, they noted.

Blinken is expected to deliver a major speech on US strategy toward sub-Saharan Africa on Monday, according to US media. It is the top US diplomat’s second visit to the region after his trip to Kenya, Nigeria and Senegal in November 2021, and is seen as a ‘catch-up game’ to counter Russia’s growing influence and China in the region.

Blinken’s trip follows that of Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov to the region, who has just completed a visit to Egypt, Ethiopia, Uganda and the Republic of Congo. “We are back to Cold War-style strategic diplomacy,” in which superpowers try to convince African countries that their narrative is the right one and compete for support, The New York Times reported on Sunday, citing analysts.

During the Cold War era, the West and the Soviet Union attempted to gain allies or proxies in the developing world, and Africa’s economic and political development was hampered, the media said. Americans.

Since US President Joe Biden took office in January 2021, he appeared to take some steps to correct his predecessor’s dismissive attitude towards Africa, pledging to work with African countries and expressing mutual respect as well as solidarity. As the White House announced in July that it would host a major summit for leaders from across the continent in December, the administration is set to unveil a new strategy on the continent, aimed at reinvigorating American engagement and to compete with China and Russia, US media reported. .

Blinken will launch the US Strategy for Sub-Saharan Africa and lead a US delegation to the US-South Africa Strategic Dialogue, US State Department spokesman Ned Price said in a tweet on Sunday.

Although South Africa has strong ties with Western countries like the United States and the United Kingdom, it is unrealistic to expect the African country to become a new part of the “circle of friends”. of the US-led West to counter China, Huang Lizhi, senior lecturer in the School of African Studies with Beijing Foreign Studies University, told the Global Times on Sunday.

“South Africa has many dimensions to its identity. It has a long history of engagement with the United States and the United Kingdom, leaving positive or negative legacies. At the same time, the country is also the one of the major emerging countries, keeping an active interaction with China and being an important part of the BRICS,” Huang said.

On whether South Africa would face political pressure over its close partnership with China and Russia, Siyabonga Cwele, South Africa’s Ambassador to China, told the Global Times in an exclusive interview in June that South Africa pursues an independent foreign policy.

“Our approach is that we believe in peace, we believe in the resolution of all conflict by peaceful means, and we believe in the supremacy of the United Nations system, which governs us all by agreed rules that we must all abide by” , did he declare. adding that BRICS countries have common ideas about focusing on peace and growth.

Climate change, the food crisis and health will be the topics of discussion at Blinken’s meeting on Monday with his South African counterpart Naledi Pandor, according to media reports.

In response to some media reports that speculated that African countries, such as South Africa, would “condemn” the Russian military operation in Ukraine, some Chinese experts said that rather than taking sides between the great powers, African countries were much more concerned with solving their own problems.

“Africa is facing three major crises – the food crisis, the financial crisis and the energy crisis. Asian and African Studies from the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times on Sunday. African countries champion diplomatic approaches based on their own interests, she said.

Experts noted that since the ruling members of the African National Congress will choose their party leader and therefore the presidential candidate in December, South African political elites will focus primarily on domestic issues and economic recovery.

“Furthermore, many South African politicians still have a fresh memory of the impact of the Cold War, which makes them realize that they need pragmatic positions in the face of great powers,” Huang said.

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