The United States’ greatest threat in Africa is China, not just for security reasons, but also for economic competition, Marine Corps General Michael Langley, commander of the U.S. Africa Command, told the Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on Thursday.
“General Langley. Despite the size and growing importance of the continent, the 21st century wars in Centcom, the Russian invasion in Ukraine, and the strategic competition with China have dominated much of our focus on this committee. What might we be missing about Africa that you think this committee should take note of in the coming years?” Senator Kirsten Elizabeth Gillibrand (D-NY) asked General langley during the hearing.
“Certainly I would say just aspirations of China,” he responded. “The aspirations of China is threefold. One from the geopolitical. They’re trying to change the international norms, and they’re using some of the African countries within the UN construct, whether it be General Assembly or the Security Council, trying to affect votes, to change those international norms in the international system.”
He added, “And then there’s a geo-strategic operation. There are aspirations for military bases on the continent of Africa. Just talking to my African partners, they don’t want to be militarized in a strategic sense.
“And the last piece, Senator, is geo-economic. Our future economy is dependent upon a number of rare earth minerals. And also some of our clean energy technologies depend upon the rare earth minerals. About 30% to 40% of those minerals are on the continent of Africa.
“That’s forward thinking by the PRC. They’re trying to harvest and leverage upon that through shaky deals, engaging with some of these countries so they can corner the market, if you will. That’s what I’m concerned about, Senator.”
In his posture statement before the Senate Armed Services Committee on Thursday, March 16, 2023, General Langley said that the entire team of the United States, is focused on advancing mutual interests.
He said, “Our entire team [at USAFRICOM] is laser focused on the implementing our whole of government approach with our partners from the Department of State, U.S. Agency for International Development, the intelligence community, and other U.S. government organizations,” Langley said. “We campaign with our allies and partners to advance mutual interests and to promote stability and prosperity on the African continent.”
Outlining the command’s strategy of working with allies and partners to advance mutual interests across the region, Langley told members of the SASC that achieving national goals will only be accomplished through a synchronized whole-of-government strategy.
“Terrorism, poverty, food insecurity, climate change, and mass migration shatter African lives and sow the seeds of violent extremism and Russian exploitation. Solutions to these colossal problems must be a shared burden and African nations need to be at the helm of a concerted international effort to produce sustainable results, sustainable outcomes,” he said.
During the two-hour hearing, Langley answered questions from committee members on topics ranging from Chinese activities in Africa and resourcing requirements to the command’s assessment of the extent of Russian destabilizing activities.
In a statement provided to the committee, Langley highlighted that the Kremlin tramples African interests by leveraging Wagner, a U.S.-designated transnational criminal organization, to aggravate weak governance and feed instability.
“Russia’s Wagner mercenaries turn chaos into cash,” he said.
Also testifying during the hearing was U.S. Army Gen. Michael Kurilla, commander, U.S. Central Command.