The Magazine

Into Africa

Mischief-making is the latest Chinese export.

Jul 28, 2008, Vol. 13, No. 43 • By ROGER KAPLAN
Widget tooltip
Single Page Print Larger Text Smaller Text Alerts

During violence in Kenya last winter sparked by flawed elections, China's People's Daily (the organ of the ruling party) editorialized that "Western-style democracy is not suited for Africa." However, passing through Washington last month, Kenya's prime minister, Raila Odinga, sharply criticized Mugabe and called free elections imperative in Zimbabwe.

If an American presidential candidate did the same--if, without injecting himself into Zimbabwe's or Sudan's or any other country's internal politics, Barack Obama or John McCain made it clear the United States dislikes the kinds of political regimes China promotes and enables--Africans would surely take note. Indeed, in a campaign year unlike any previous one, Americans themselves might notice.

Roger Kaplan is a writer in Washington.