America Needs a Leader Who Will Confront China's Loan Sharking in Africa | Opinion

We are facing the first genuine challenge to American leadership in a generation. America needs a leader who can not only assertively defend our nation's economic rights, but can also counter China's gambit to reduce much of Africa and the developing world to raw material client-states for its industries.

That definitively rules out Joe Biden.

China's bid to displace the United States as the world's preeminent superpower differs greatly from the attempt made by the Soviet Union. Unlike the USSR, China is not diplomatically and economically isolated—quite the opposite. Starting in the 1980s, establishment politicians from both parties have integrated China into the functioning of the American economy to such a degree that we have become virtually dependent on our foremost economic and geopolitical rival—as our inability to produce certain medical supplies during the coronavirus pandemic poignantly demonstrated.

Looking at our choices for 2020, only one candidate has a record of calling out China's malfeasance and demanding genuinely fair treatment for American workers and businesses—President Donald J. Trump.

Presumptive Democratic Party presidential nominee Joe Biden, conversely, jumped on the China train 35 years ago and never got off. As a U.S. senator, Biden repeatedly voted to liberalize trade relations with China and paved the way for the communist country's entry into the World Trade Organization. As vice president, he naively parroted fanciful globalist talking points about China's rise being good for everyone. Now, as a presidential candidate during a pandemic that started in China, he has struggled to recast himself as a China hawk while still repeating Beijing's propaganda about "xenophobia."

On the other hand, it would not be an exaggeration to say that Donald Trump got involved in politics largely because of the Washington establishment's unilateral surrender to China. Years before he ran for president, he was calling for strategic counter-tariffs to reverse the loss of America's industrial base, and managing China's rise has never been absent from his rhetoric or his agenda throughout his political career. In office, President Trump has overseen the greatest change in the trajectory of America's economic relationship with China since the Nixon era.

Those same instincts are crucial for other aspects of our rivalry with Beijing, as well. Although direct economic relations between the two largest economies on Earth are significant, another struggle is playing out across the globe—one far more akin to the Cold War competition for influence in the developing world between America and the USSR.

Presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden
Presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden JIM WATSON/AFP via Getty Images

In my own native continent of Africa, China is already well on its way to replacing America and the West as the resource-rich continent's predominant economic partner. The Chinese-dominated "BRICS bank" already has partially displaced the International Monetary Fund, and China itself now holds roughly one-third of African sovereign debt.

China's end game is obvious to all parties—it's nothing more than sovereign loan-sharking. Whether it's Zimbabwean lithium, Zambian copper, Namibian uranium or access to Indian Ocean ports in Kenya, China is using the financial power it's built up over 30 years of advantageous trade with the United States to finance predatory loans to the countries that possess the resources it needs to fuel its ascent. To that end, China has engaged every corrupt means imaginable, from bribery to money laundering, in addition to the use of debt to extract concessions.

America has, so far, been woefully unwilling to address China's ambitions in the developing world. We are in the early stages of a competition that could ultimately decide leadership of the world. Americans cannot afford to entrust our future to Joe Biden, whose entire career has been defined by appeasement and surrender to Beijing.

Jaco Booyens is founder and CEO of After Eden Pictures.

The views expressed in this article are the writer's own.