Author: Fernando C. Saldivar, S.J.
One of the lessons of the sovereign debt crisis spurred by the COVID-19 global pandemic is that China now plays an outsize role in the African economy, having displaced Western governments and key international organizations to become Africa’s largest bilateral creditor, source of foreign direct investment, and trading partner. After four years of not-so benign neglect Washington’s attention is again focused on Africa, largely to curb the rising influence of China on the continent. However, the United States may discover that in this 21st century “scramble for Africa” many states have already chosen to align their economic interests with Beijing, with serious implications for Washington’s position at the apex of the global financial order. Nowhere is this more clear than in China’s unveiling of its e-currency, the digital yuan, and the potential it has for helping displace the U.S. dollar as the world’s reserve currency.