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Ruto to the West: “China is Africa’s Friend, Sort your Differences”

Ruto to the West: “China is Africa’s Friend, Sort your Differences”
President William Ruto during the New Financial Order Summit in Paris, France. Photo Courtesy

Kenyan President William Ruto delivered a powerful speech last week during a global leaders’ forum on a new financial order in Paris, France.

Addressing Western leaders, including French President Emmanuel Macron and top officials from the IMF and World Bank, President Ruto expressed his unequivocal support for China’s relationship with Africa.

During his address, President Ruto emphasized the positive impact of China’s investment in Africa’s infrastructure development.

He boldly stated that Africa has a remarkable relationship with China, which has played a vital role in financing major projects across the continent.

“We have a wonderful relationship with China. They finance our infrastructure projects,” Ruto told the west

He dismissed the tension between the West and China as unhelpful and unnecessary, drawing a parallel to historical divisions hindering progress on issues like climate change.

“The tension between the West and China is unhelpful, unnecessary, and as useless as the tension between the North and South when we discuss climate change,’’ added Ruto

President Ruto’s remarks caught the attention of many foreign policy observers, as he seemed to be shifting Kenya’s economic-centered foreign policy by looking westward while simultaneously acknowledging the value of China’s partnership.

The president’s perspective indicated a desire to strengthen ties with both Western nations and China for the benefit of Kenya’s economic growth and development.

Interestingly, President Ruto’s government officials have already taken steps to engage with Chinese counterparts.

Kenya’s Diaspora Permanent Secretary, Roseline Njogu, has been actively involved in Hong Kong, exploring employment opportunities and fostering collaboration with Chinese officials.

This somehow demonstrates the government’s commitment to expanding economic ties beyond traditional boundaries.

In line with President Ruto’s vision, Moses Kuria, the Trade Cabinet Secretary, highlighted China as a valuable partner in Kenyan trade negotiations on Tuesday when he met the Chinese ambassador to Kenya, Zhou Pingjian in Nairobi.

Chinese Ambassador to Kenya Zhou Pingjian with Kenya's Trade CS Moses Kuria when they met on 27 June 2023 in Nairobi. Photo Courtesy

Kuria emphasized the need to tap into China’s extensive market, which presents immense opportunities for Kenyan products while bolstering local production.

The Trade Cabinet Secretary further revealed his engagements with Chinese investors and his proactive approach to seeking their participation in County Aggregation and Industrial Parks.

Notably, the Kenyan government aims to establish a well-structured framework to ensure that Chinese investors entering the country align with local production priorities.

This demonstrates a careful balance between foreign investment and safeguarding domestic industries.

President Ruto’s powerful speech and subsequent government actions have sparked a lively debate on Kenya’s foreign policy and its economic-centered approach.

While acknowledging the value of China as a partner, there is a clear intention to diversify economic engagements, tapping into opportunities offered by Western nations as well.

In recent years, the West’s already fragile reputation in Africa has worsened. The only Western institution still properly active seems to be the IMF, while China on the other hand has, broadly speaking, kept up its commercial operations.

As the Kenyan government forges ahead with its economic-centered foreign policy, all eyes remain on President Ruto and his administration’s actions in navigating the delicate balance between China, the West, and the aspirations of the Kenyan people.

He is expected to meet President Xi Jinping later this year.


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