• On Wednesday, President Kenyatta said that African nations should be free to cooperate with both the United States and China.
  • He warned that foreign powers were exacerbating the continent's divisions.
  • On the eve of his talks with President Donald Trump, President Kenyatta said he was "very concerned" about a return to the Cold War era.

The Kenyan President, Uhuru Kenyatta, has broken his silence on the simmering US-China rivalry which has culminated into a trade war..

On Wednesday, President Kenyatta said that African nations should be free to cooperate with both the United States and China, warning that foreign powers were exacerbating the continent's divisions.

Kenyan President, Uhuru Kenyatta, addressing leaders of the Atlantic Council at a forum dubbed “The Future of The US-Kenya Strategic Partnership”
Kenyan President, Uhuru Kenyatta, addressing leaders of the Atlantic Council at a forum dubbed “The Future of The US-Kenya Strategic Partnership”

Speaking while on a visit to Washington, where he addressed leaders of the Atlantic Council at a forum dubbed “The Future of The US-Kenya Strategic Partnership” Mr. Kenyatta said the current African leadership is not motivated by the perpetuation narrow partisan interests but rather focused on empowering the continent's citizens economically.

“I have noticed in the conversation in Western countries and their counterparts in Asia and the Middle East a return to competition over Africa. In some cases weaponising divisions, pursuing proxy actions, and behaving like Africa is for the taking. It is not,” President Kenyatta said.

On the eve of his talks with President Donald Trump, President Kenyatta said he was "very concerned" about a return to the Cold War era when Africans had to choose between the United States and the Soviet Union.

"We don't want to be forced to choose. We want to work with everybody, and we believe that there is opportunity for everybody.” Mr Kenyatta said when about the criticism of China.

China-Africa Forum for Cooperation (FOCAC) 2018 Summit
China-Africa Forum for Cooperation (FOCAC) 2018 Summit

Over the past decade, the People’s Republic of China has pumped billions of dollars into the cradle of mankind and today, China is the largest trading partner with Africa as a whole.

“China and Africa can forge a stronger comprehensive and strategic partnership. China promises to engage with Africa on a principle of sincerity and real results,” Chinese President Xi Jinping said at the close of the 2018 China-Africa Forum for Cooperation (FOCAC) summit held in Beijing.

“China’s 1.3 billion people and Africa’s 1.2 billion want a shared future,” said the Chinese leader as he promised that no obstacle will be allowed to hold back the ‘joint march’ before announcing it had set up a new $60 billion kitty meant for Africa’s development as part of a raft of new measures to strengthen Sino-Africa ties.

The United States has, however, been increasingly vocal in urging developing nations to be wary of China, warning that Beijing was trapping African countries and saddling them with unpayable debts through debt diplomacy.