Enter The Dragon: Exploring The Politics Of Sino-Africa Relations #PART 2

Posted on November 15, 2011 in GlobeScope, Politics

By Mahalakshmi Ganapathy:

In #Part 1, we discussed genesis of Sino-African relation.

One really begins to wonder the exact nature of relations between these two regions. On the surface it seems like a win-win situation with both maintaining their status-quo ,but if one reads between the lines, a brewing hegemony appears and remnants of colonial past are seen to be present with a new demon in town. China has been growing at an impressive rate of 8-9% and also growing along with it is the ever growing need for energy and resources to keep up this growth and what better place than the African region with its abundant supply of oil, copper, untapped markets with millions of potential customers. Recognizing the importance of the African region and the avenues it provides, China is now vociferously engaged in building newer and newer relations with them. Also Africa’s need for new and better roads, school buildings, computer networks, telecoms systems and power generation has opened a lucrative window of opportunity for Chinese firms. China’s gifts to modern-day Africa will soon include a gleaming new conference centre at the headquarters of the African Union in Addis Ababa – a symbol of Beijing’s commitment to African development.

Many sops have been provided to entice the African nations into allowing the presence of Chinese firms and products into the market there. A Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) has been established and in the year 2006, 48 heads of African countries were present ,a show of the strengthening bond between the two nations. China even wrote off debts totalling $1.3 bn from the 31 countries. Trade has been increased to $100 bn in the year 2010.These soft deals have made the Chinese entry in this region very smooth and the statistics  that follow tell us the whole story……..

China now stands as the second largest importer of oil. An estimated 25 percent of China’s total oil imports currently comes from Africa and Africa owns around 8% of the world’s oil reserves and 11% of world oil production. Sudan, which now supplies 7 percent of China’s total oil imports, has benefited from the largest Chinese investments. The China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC) is the single largest shareholder (40 percent) in the Greater Nile Petroleum Operating Company, which controls Sudan’s oil fields,and has invested $3 billion in refinery and pipeline construction in Sudan since 1999. Nearly 80 percent of Sudan’s $500 million annual oil revenue is used to purchase weapons to subdue the rebels in southern Sudan.With Chinese assistance, the Sudanese government recently built three weapons factories near Khartoum.

With its increasing population and rapid industrialization, farmland in China has become scarce and in the future the country will have to rely on food imports to feed its own population. China is currently investing in agriculture, fisheries and related secondary production in Africa and has already signed contracts with Sierra Leone, Gabon and Namibia to allow Chinese fishermen to fish in their coastal waters. In addition, they have leased agricultural land in Zambia, Tanzania and Zimbabwe.

Africa’s population totals approximately 800 million — China has been able to find a ready market for its cheap, low-quality consumer products and it is trying aggressively to take control of the African market. Exports of African  textiles have also been hit. The growth of Chinese exports to the  US is negatively affecting the previously promising growth that African exports were enjoying in this field. In 2004, Chinese direct investment in Africa reached $135 million, with 77 additional Chinese companies doing business in the region.

Chinese companies are bringing their own labourers to work in Africa. In areas where unemployment is already high, the effects of migrant Chinese labour will be felt over time. For example in Angola, some domestic suppliers and retailers have had to close down because they could not compete with  the Chinese. In other parts of Africa resentment  against the Chinese is also being

Why does China need Africa-The Chinese agenda:

Needless to say ,the relationship that China wants to build with the African region is turning quite a few heads in the West and making the “super powers” jittery because a partnership with the 53 nations forming the African region is a huge support for China who has dreams of being the next superpower ,not only economically but also in terms of all geo-political advantages and control of trade ,men and resources. China dreams big and wants to shift from being the leader of the Third World to the World leader in all respects and needs African support .Having the derived the support from Africa ,China will then seek to effectively tame the growing domination of the West. Another  reason for the growing friendship with the region is to remove and isolate Taiwan from the African region which hopes to then hold claim of Taiwan and unify it under the One China Policy.

Although China is well through the development stage in terms of making in-roads in this region ,it definitely is also creating it’s own enemies within as it keeps sending thousands and thousands of labour and people from China, thus displacing the local populace who is already struggling with the problem of unemployment. It has also eaten into the textile business and thrown locals from it .Also under the guise of development works, China has taken a huge chunk of business from investing local companies .There are small but significant discontents emerging from the locals against the Chinese and it remains to be seen how China is able to appease them without setting themselves in the wrong foot .

The world will be watching each and every move while China-Africa keep signing documents and deepen trade and relations with each other.