Long before covid-19 pandemic, the United States and China were already engaged in an ugly trade war.
But by January the world’s two biggest economies were headed for a truce – or so we thought.
And they signed what they termed “Part1” of that truce which chiefly obligated China to start buying in large numbers America’s agricultural produce.
By the time the two signed the deal, China was already battling covid-19, albeit at more localized levels.
Covid-19 started in China in the city of Wuhan.
Almost 6 months down the line the pandemic has ravaged the world economy and threatens to claim big political figures as scalps.
Already there is a lot of figure pointing happening.
The United States blames China not only of mishandling the virus in its early days, but also of a cover-up.
The whole thing has degenerated into a catfight.
The pandemic has made China much more combative.
The hawkish politicians in the west, especially in the United States are also digging in. It is a fight for the world stage.
This pandemic is remaking global geopolitics. And the likelihood is that by the time it has passed, there will be a totally new world order.
China has become a huge source of finance for Africa. And indeed the world. And that money has become an integral part of soft power diplomacy by China.
When it comes to Africa, it is clear that China has outflanked the west in diplomatic influence.
The trillion-dollar Belt initiative is just one of the latest designs by the Chinese government on Africa.
There is a huge debate raging on the true impact of these loans on Africa.
Some people have called them latter-day colonialism.
Others have called it just what Africa needed.
Just over two years ago China pledged $65 billion in grants and loans to Africa.
A majority of that money has never been released, and now with the pandemic doubts are growing if China will ever release the money.
In the meantime, China is growing ever more assertive and even more combative.
There is no doubt that each wants to dominate the world. The trophy here is economic might.
And with that economy, comes supremacy.
Under the current stand-off China is buoyed by what it perceivers as a failure by the United States and Europe to overcome covid-19.
This leads china to a conclusion that wrestling the world’s economic tittle from the United States is a possibility that could come sooner than was initially imagined.
This annoys America most.
Botswana, like the rest of Africa finds itself caught up in the frenzy of “pandemic diplomacy.”
It would have been easier under former president to know where Botswana stands in the standoff of the two economic super powers.
Ian Khama hated China and everything that China stood for. And he made no attempt to hide it.
He actively cultivated China’s sworn enemies, notably Dalai Lama who he invited to Botswana and when he could not come, moved mountains to visit him, instead – albeit after leaving power.
Mokgweetsi Masisi has been rebalancing and resetting Botswana’s diplomatic relations towards and around China.
Though with some exaggeration, Masisi even calls China president, Xi Jinping a friend.
At the China-Africa Summit two years ago, Masisi was given special attention when his arrival was also accorded a State visit.
Botswana remains cold to the west, its traditional allies.
It would be a gross mistake were Botswana to take sides.
Botswana should be non-aligned, as it always has been.
Botswana needs many allies, not just who emerges the winner in a turf war.
Botswana’s friends should be determined by Botswana’s interests.
The country’s ideals and values should play a role in reaching such a determination.
China and America both have a place under the sun.
Countries should not give in to choosing either and not both.
Policies of you are with me or against me no longer have a role in this world.