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[PODCAST] The U.S. & China spend millions fighting malaria in Africa, so why don’t they work together?

[PODCAST] The U.S. & China spend millions fighting malaria in Africa, so why don’t they work together?

Every year malaria kills 400,000 Africans, mostly toddlers under 5 years old, and costs the continent an estimated 12 billion dollars annually in lost productivity. Unlike HIV, malaria does not require sophisticated drugs or other costly treatments. In fact, the cost of treating the disease is relatively inexpensive, according to data from the WHO, and preventing through the use of medicated bed nets is even more affordable.

Both the United States and China are each spending hundreds of millions of dollars to fight the disease in Africa. A pair of experts at the Carter Center in Atlanta, Georgia contend that if the US and PRC stopped working in parallel with one another and actually collaborated together they would be much more effective to combat the spread of the deadly disease.

“Despite the challenges associated with collaboration, many on all sides are beginning to see the benefits of working in greater coordination,” contend Dr. Liu Yawei, Director of the China program at the Carter Center, and graduate assistant William Pierce, in an upcoming academic paper that will be published in South Africa. “While working independently may allow entities to move quicker, working together will allow them to go farther,” they add.

While on paper it may make a lot of sense for the U.S. and China to work together in Africa, particularly on humanitarian issues like fighting communicable diseases. The reality, though, is a lot more complicated as officials on both sides really just don’t seem to trust each other very much. Moreover, African governments have also expressed reluctance about U.S. and China collaboration out of concern that a combined foreign presence could potentially become quite powerful and force local governments to make unwanted compromises.

For now, African leaders do not have much to worry about as neither Chinese nor U.S. leaders seem all that inclined to cooperate with one another on health, diplomacy, or well, pretty much any issue on the continent. Nonetheless, both Dr. Liu and Pierce remain optimistic that the fight against the spread of malaria is different. The two scholars join Eric & Cobus to explain why Africa offers a unique opportunity for the U.S. and China to work constructively with one another.

About Dr. Liu Yawei

Yawei Liu has been a member of numerous Carter Center missions to monitor Chinese village, township, and county people’s congress deputy elections since 1997. Liu has written extensively on China’s political developments and grassroots democracy, including three edited book series: “Rural Election and Governance in Contemporary China” (Northwestern University Press, Xi’an, 2002 and 2004); “The Political Readers” (China Central Translation Bureau Press, Beijing, 2006); and “Elections & Governance” (Northwestern University Press, Xian, 2009). He is the founder and editor of the China elections and governance website Liu is also co-author of the popular Chinese book “Obama: The Man Who Will Change America” (October 2008).

Liu is an adjunct professor of political science at Emory University and associate director of the China Research Center in Atlanta. He earned his bachelor’s degree in English literature from Xi’an Foreign Languages Institute (1982), master’s degree in recent American history from the University of Hawaii (1989), and doctorate in American political and diplomatic history from Emory University (1996).

About William Pierce

William Pierce holds the graduate assistantship for The Carter Center’s China Program. He is a masters student at Rollins School of Public Health, with a policy and management concentration. Mr. Pierce served in the Peace Corps, living in a Ghanaian village, carrying out public health programs from 2013 to 2015. William holds an executive position in the Rollins Returned Peace Corps Committee.  He has worked at CARE International within the new business development department, responding to U.S. government solicitations, including those from USAID.  William has a bachelor of science degree in biology from the University at Buffalo. He speaks Hausa and Buili.


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About Eric Olander

Eric Olander is the founder and Editor in Chief of The China Africa Project. Eric is a veteran international journalist with 20+ years experience throughout Greater China, Africa, the United States and Europe. Eric is currently based in Southeast Asia where he is the senior news executive with a leading 24-hour all business news cable TV network.