Kenya has been caught in the middle of a brewing diplomatic row between the United States and China.
After US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson warned African nations not to forfeit their sovereignity for huge Chinese loans, Beijing’s ambassador to Nairobi Liu Xianfa responded in a hard-hitting statement specifically referring to Kenya.
“It is important that African countries carefully consider the terms of those agreements and not forfeit their sovereignty,” Tillerson had stated in Ethiopia.
In response, Xianfa stated: "It is Kenya and the people of Kenya who know the best and have the best position to say how China-Kenya co-operation has contributed to the development of the nation and the well-being of her people.”
“You cannot know whether the shoes fit or not until you wear them,” he added.
[caption caption="Chinese Ambassador to Kenya Liu Xianfa"][/caption]
The response, that specifically talked about Kenya despite the original statement referring to African countries, shows the importance of Kenya as an ally to both US and China.
Competing interests in the country and rapidly growing Chinese influence are believed to have been behind Tillerson's visit to the country.
Foreign Affairs CS Monica Juma tried to avoid discussing the tussle between US and China, only maintaining that Kenya had agreed to deals that were in the interests of its people.
“This country is engaging with partners from across the world driven by our own interest and for our own value,” Juma stated.
She dismissed Tillerson's remarks, stating: “We are managing affairs in this country and we do not need certain advice...Advice is okay but you don’t have to take that advice if it is not useful.”
[caption caption="Ambassador Bob Godec, Rex Tillerson, President Uhuru Kenyatta, DP William Ruto and CS Monica Juma (L-R)"][/caption]