February 8, 2007

HARRISONBURG—In his weekly column for the World Defense Review, Dr. J. Peter Pham, Director of the Nelson Institute for International and Public Affairs at James Madison University, focuses on the current twelve-day, eight-nation tour of Africa by President Hu Jintao of the People’s Republic of China.

In his third trip to the continent since taking office in 2003, the Chinese leader has stops in Cameroon, Liberia, Sudan, Zambia, Namibia, South Africa, Mozambique, and Seychelles. At the time Dr. Pham’s column was filed, Hu had announced $100 million in grants and loans for Cameroon; signed seven accords with Liberia, including $15 million in debt forgiveness; reaffirmed that “any solution [in Darfur] needs to respect the sovereignty of Sudan” (whose president received an interest-free loan for a new presidential palace courtesy of his guest); and inaugurated an $800 million special economic zone in Zambia’s Copper Belt Province where Chinese firms will be exempt from import and value-added taxes.

Dr. Pham concludes: “While it is understandable how the foreign policy focus of U.S. policymakers and media might be trained primarily these days on the Greater Middle East, especially on the fight against terrorism, and perhaps even more narrowly fixed on Iraq, Hu Jintao’s grand tour through Africa is a timely reminder that other potential challenges to America’s national interests continue to loom, even if we might not always be paying them the heed we should.”

To read Dr. Pham’s article, “Guess Hu’s Coming to Dinner,” click here.