As a guest on Afro World View TV in South Africa delivering a lecture at the University of Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa; the eloquent Kenyan Law Don and unarguably the most vocal Pan-African alive was asked to share his thoughts on the current China-Africa Trade agreements that has swept across Africa like wind in Harmattan Season.
This was his reply in essence:
Trade is between equals; does China view Africa as equal? What China is practicing in Africa isn't Trade, it is Raid!
That simple response summed it up and indeed invoked a thought provoking rhetoric centered around the true reasons behind China's sudden interest to 'help' Africa. Even the blind can see that China's activities in Africa are pernicious and only a ploy to use Africa as a resource and man-power hub to satisfy her interests and sustain her increasing population.
Another reason why China is bent on having Africa in its pockets is as a result of its selfish ambition to become world power, ahead of the United States and perhaps Russia. To achieve this, having control over Africa - her wealth of resources, army, land, waterways, workforce, etc. will undoubtedly give China an advantage above her contemporaries.
China’s bilateral cooperation with Africa has grown phenomenally in the past 40 years with trade leaping from $765 million to $170 billion a year. Yet, China continues to say that there is no cause for alarm because the country will not pressurize Africa to pay back the loans anytime soon.
China’s Deputy Foreign Minister Chen Xiaodong, during the opening session of the 7th Forum of the China-Africa Expert Committee said:
“China is attentive to the situation in Africa and seeks to help the continent to contain the risks of debt and relieve the pressure of payment.”
Africa has fallen for the bait, but she forgets that borrowing to pay a debt is debt in itself. These increased debts have made African leaders mute to China's atrocities in the continent. This is because their hands are tied and they know China will demand repayment once the relationship goes south. This is blackmail of the highest order!
In an article published by Diplomatic Courier in 2015 titled "The Long Term Dangers of Chinese Investment in Africa", Africa was warned of the long term effects of these so called 'Chinese Investments.' It said:
"In March 2015, China Hongqiao Group secured a mining and port investment deal for the development of Guinea’s bauxite reserves– the largest in the world – with the first shipment unloaded in Yantai port a mere 8 months later. While Guinea has been keen to attract investors to this highly lucrative industry, looking farther afield, the country’s desire for Chinese investment might turn out to be a poisoned chalice.
"Indeed, while China’s presence on the African continent is rather new and African leaders are enthusiastic at basking in Beijing’s deep pockets, the example of several Southeast Asian countries should give them a moment of pause before popping open the champagne. Why? Because in their mad dash for resources, Beijing has turned a blind eye to the massive environmental damages done by mining companies."
Today, the cases in Guinea and other African countries confirm the fears of the writer, but own indebtedness to China has increased significantly also and thus not only are our hands ties, our mouths are gagged too!
In answering the question "Why is China investing this heavily in [African] infrastructure", Clean Technica says it is:
"For the Chinese, this is a part of a long-term gambit to broaden their geopolitical influence and economic might. They see it as a means to influence — both via friendly and, if necessary, more coercive means — other nations to align with their views and support their very ambitious international agendas for Chinese trade, political expansionism and economic dominance.
"The BRI will be one of the main means by which China attempts to supplant the U.S. dollar and other major international currencies with the Yuan as the primary currency of global trade."
What China does in Africa is indeed Raid. They claim to implement projects and provide infrastructure, but these projects are dependent on deals made at the highest political levels. They lack competitive and transparent bidding processes, and most of the workforce employed at these ventures have been Chinese. The promises of job creation have not been fulfilled. Further, when Africans are hired, local rules and regulations are often flouted, leading at times to poor safety.
According to Fortune.com, at Chinese-run mines in Zambia’s copper belt, employees must work for two years before they get safety helmets. Ventilation below ground is poor, and deadly accidents occur almost on a daily basis.
More frequently, jobs are lost to Chinese employees, who are ferried in project by project. For example, the growing Chinese presence in South Africa may have cost the country 75,000 jobs from 2000 to 2011. In Nigeria, the influx of low-priced Chinese textile goods has caused 80% of Nigerian companies in this industry to close.
Perhaps making matters worse, the kind of goods that the two partners trade with each other have done little to change such perception.
Whereas China buys from Africa mainly natural resources—minerals and metals—African countries import primarily the finished results, ranging from machinery and electrical goods to plastics and rubber.
Is this Trade or Raid, you decide!
Credits: Afro World View TV, DIASPOINT, Diplomatic Courier, Clean Technica. Fortune
Photo Credit: mainichi.jp (Mozambique's President Filipe Nyusi, left, shake hands with China's President Xi Jinping, prior to their bilateral meeting at the Great Hall of the People, Beijing, China.)