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Why China Is Taking over Africa’s Resources One Country at a Time

Akol Nyok Akol Dok

Africa is on the cusp of a new period in its history, its renaissance. Freed from centuries of colonialism and neo-imperialism, Africa has the opportunity to become a center of economic might to provide prosperity to the continent’s growing population. Yet, at present, Africa unfortunately faces a new danger: Sino-imperialism, the risk of falling under the control of China largely through Chinese economic investment and loans. The People’s Republic of China has long supported African states since the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) came to power in 1949. Under Mao, China’s backed African liberation movements in an effort to advance Maoism and offset Soviet and American influence. In much of Africa today, China is the imperialist power. 

China is in Africa now not to advance Maoism, but to control its resources, people, and potential. From building railways in Kenya and roads in rural Ethiopia to running mines in the Congo, China has drastically changed the African economic landscape in the twentieth century. China lent nearly $125 billion to Africa between 2000 and 2006 and recently pledged $60 billion at the 2018 Forum on China-Africa Co-operation. The Chinese superficially appear to maintain a mutually beneficial relationship with Africa by providing financial and technical assistance to Africa’s pressing developmental needs. Trade between China and Africa has grown from $10 billion in 2000 to $190 billion by 2017. It is estimated that 12 percent of Africa industrial production, or $500 billion annually—nearly half of Africa’s internationally contracted construction market—is carried out by Chinese firms.

China’s activities in the African continent have yet to receive the attention they deserve in the West. China’s behavior in Africa is important for three major reasons. First, China is the source of significant investment capital twinned with a prodigious ability to create infrastructure, both of which are needed by many African states. Second, China’s behavior in Africa provides the rest of the world with insight into how it will behave towards other states, particularly the states of the Global South, as it becomes equal in power with the United States. Third, what China is doing in Africa does not augur well for the rest of the world. China’s activities and behavior in Africa may only be described as neo-colonial and exploitative of African peoples and the environment.

China’s abusive behavior towards African states has occurred for decades. In 2007, Guy Scott, the former agricultural minister in the Zambian government told The Guardian, “We’ve had bad people before. The whites were bad, the Indians were worse, but the Chinese are worst of all.” But Sino-imperialism is getting worse as China grows in power and seeks evermore resources.

There are copious examples of the negative consequences of Sino-imperialism. One archetypical case is the China National Petroleum Corporation, the state-owned oil and gas company, which is a major investor operating in South Sudanese oil fields. The Chinese pollute the local environment with impunity, resulting in children born with deformities, the poisoning of livestock, destruction of fertile land, and the pollution of rivers. Additionally, the Chinese cause environmental destruction in the Northern Upper Nile and Ruweng states affects the indigenous Dinka Padang communities of South Sudan. The Chinese help produce oil generating revenue and economic opportunities but are not bound with environmental standards.

The Chinese influence in South Sudan also results from road construction and infrastructure development. South Sudan will provide thirty thousand barrels per day of crude to the Export-Import Bank of China to fund the construction of roads and infrastructure development. This includes the construction of a 392-kilometer (244-mile) road from Juba to Rumbek and from Juba to Nadapal on the Kenyan border, which is being built by a Chinese firm using Chinese technology and manpower.

South Sudan’s neighbors, Ethiopia and Kenya, received loans for infrastructure projects from the Chinese. The Chinese Belt and Road Initiative has introduced dynamic infrastructure projects such as the Standard Gauge Railway. The railway connects Djibouti, Ethiopia, and Kenya. The railway was Ethiopia’s first railway in over a century and Africa’s first fully electrified line. The railways cuts travel time from the capital Addis Ababa to Djibouti from two days by road to twelve hours.

The Standard Gauge Railway appears to be providing revolutionary infrastructure to stimulate economic growth, but the details demand scrutiny. The project cost nearly $4.5 billion, partly financed by the China Export-Import Bank. The railway uses Chinese trains, Chinese construction companies, Chinese standards and specifications, and operated by the China Railway Group Limited (CREC) and China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation.

As might be expected from this Sino-imperialist project, the railway has been plagued with technical and financial challenges, which calls into question Ethiopia’s dependence on Chinese technology and debt-finance. The African country is struggling to repay its loan to China and reap the benefits of this dynamic infrastructure project. In 2018, Addis Ababa negotiated with China and structured its loan terms from fifteen to thirty years. In next door Kenya, as a result of heavy borrowing by the government, China may seize the port of Mombasa. According to Kenya’s Daily Nation newspaper, the terms are Draconian and state “neither the borrower [Kenya] nor any of its assets is entitled to any right of immunity on the grounds of sovereignty, with respect to its obligations.”

In addition to these abuses, the Chinese presence in Africa is defined by a purposeful isolation from the indigenous population. Chinese firms bring in their own drivers, construction workers, and support staff, denying these employment opportunities to Africans, and often live apart from the African societies in which they reside.

These activities are only an example of China’s abusive behavior in Africa. Africa endured colonialism and neo-imperialism for hundreds of years. Just as Africa has freed itself from those bonds, it needs to work with the West and other states to provide alternatives to Chinese money and infrastructure. The greatest threat Africa faces today is Sino-imperialism. It is now in danger of being captured by China’s sinister Sino-imperialism that will keep Africa from entering its renaissance.

Gorse
Guest
Gorse

They’re doing the same to our neighbours, the Pacific Islands.

DigNap15
Guest
DigNap15

Its amazing that China has so much money when they make $10 tea shirts and all those $2 shop trinkets.

Colinxy
Guest
Colinxy

This is known as China’s Belt and Road Initiative.

NZ has also signed on to be recipients of this initiative. I don’t believe we’ve taken any money yet but with our clowns running government, it’s only a of time before we do.

Pascal
Guest
Pascal

On the positive side, 100 years from now all the recipients of these “Belt and Road” initiatives can start lodging their own Treaty of Waitangi style claims.

I sold you something for a stupid price, now I want it back!

howitis
Guest
howitis

That is correct.
The Tready stuff really took on a life in the late 1980s when Geoff Palmer was PM and tossing his Johnson around.

I remember having dinner in 1989 where it came up and this was about 18 months after the Oct 1987 stockmarket crash.
There was agreement that if Maori can get deals unwound that were done with free will 150 years before – and now don’t look so flash- then surely people could unwind deal from 2 years ago before the stock market crash.

That shows up how stoopid it all is.
Were they not adults over the age of 18 and able to enter a binding contract – or were they low IQ, superstitious cannibals that got hoodwinked?
You cant have it both ways.

The crazy thing is the Tready shit is still going without being stopped.
Labour Lite said in 2005 they would have all deals settled and closed by 2013.
Guess what.
These politicians lied.

Dave Mann
Guest
Dave Mann

China will never allow any indigenous people to come back at them 100+ years later wanting to renegotiate historical agreements.

They’re not that soft and certainly not that stupid.

ducklin71
Guest
ducklin71

Easy pickens. “We’ll give you this shiny mirror, if you let us have one billion worth of your gold.” A sucker is born every minute, and China knows that better than anyone.

Ross12
Guest
Ross12

So is what China is doing in Africa worse than Al Gore and his mates in the Climate Change industry? Gore & co stop (or try to stop) African countries building coal fired electricity plants to provide cheap energy to it’s citizens and therefore promote development. I would take the Chinese any day of the week.
The biggest problem for Africa is the ongoing corruption in their Governments which has been there for decades. How to correct that –I have no ideas.

ducklin71
Guest
ducklin71

I’ve never really cared-at all!- how other countries get their electricity. Gore is a wanker. Go ahead and burn coal to your heart’s content Africa if that’s what keeps the lights on.

howitis
Guest
howitis

That was a biased article.
I would not read much into it.
It is more emotional than realistic.

Yep, let’s look at US country building.
Bomb the shit out of Libya; Iraq, Afghanistan; etc etc and call it country building.
Drop more bombs on the narrow SE Asian strip of Vietnam than the whole of WW2?
Drop 20 million gallons of Agent Orange and defoliant on that same narrow strip of land.

The French in French Indochina before that were there for the resources as were the Japanese briefly until 1945.
The Japanese were pretty vicious to say the least.
The Belgian record in Africa makes the Chinese look like Mother Theresa.

I call bullshit on the article.
It is one point of view.
The imperialism committed by other European countries in Africa is generally below this standard and the story of Kenya sounds about the same.

Not that African countries or the likes of Vanuatu and Papua New Guinea have exactly been success stories since so-called ‘independence’

Article says
‘ China lent nearly $125 billion to Africa between 2000 and 2006 and recently pledged $60 billion at the 2018 Forum on China-Africa Co-operation.’
The NZ GDP is about USD200 billion pa.
Have you looked at the size of Africa?
About USD20 billion a year for all of Africa.
Three times the amount of the Christchurch rebuilt for the whole of Africa over 6 years.
Africa can fit the land mass of China + India + USA 48+ Europe within its borders.

Nah, poor article. Can do better.

Dave Mann
Guest
Dave Mann

100% agree, howitis. The second sentence of this ridiculous article gave us a clue as to its blatant anti-China bias:

Freed from centuries of colonialism and neo-imperialism, Africa has the opportunity to become a center of economic might to provide prosperity to the continent’s growing population.

Colonialism was the best thing to happen to Africa and, as for being now a ‘centre of economic might’, the mind boggles at the sheer stupidity of such an idiotic claim.

The whole article is total bullshit.

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