Diplomacy is the art of saying 'Nice doggie' until you can find a rock. - Will Rogers
Diplomacy, tact and a burning desire to be the prime nation has led China to intensify the ‘friendship ties’ with Africa. If one asks about the huge scale involvement of China in multiple countries, all would agree except the leaders of African nations. To them, it is a golden bond to accelerate the country’s development via the Chinese ideologies, technology and manpower but to the citizens, it is costing them and their future generations an enormous amount of loans and possible seizure of their lands.
But China is the emerging new superpower in the world, what does that have to do with Africa? It seems a bit suspicious in the beginning as to why a ‘developing’ nation would invest big time in an underdeveloped continent of Africa. China undoubtedly has some top-tier technology and capital due to its availability worldwide but the cliffhanger of this plot comes when China instead of investing in its own workforce, is spending heftily on development projects in African regions.
The hidden not so hidden reason for China investing a truckload of capital and manpower is to fulfil the sole aim of ‘expansion’ paving the way to neo-colonialism. There, in a single sentence, lies the ulterior motives of China’s sudden deep interest in extending friendship ties. Behind the active expansion strategy lie three benefits for China-
Raw materials- It’s no doubt that Africa is a very rich continent in terms of abundance of natural resources. Around 90% of the world’s Platinum and Cobalt, 50% of the world’s Gold and Magnesium, 35% of the world’s Uranium reserves lie in Africa which satiates China’s political motivation pretty well.
Ambition to become the most powerful nation in terms of military might and compete with the USA. In its endeavor to diversify its colonial roots, China has devised ‘One belt, one road’ that consists of 78 countries. It is a very carefully devised strategy where China finances and invests in countries to get in return some interest and deal eventually making people liable for loans and hence territory occupation on the failure of repayment.
At this point, China wants its political presence to be felt and get decision making in its favor.
In a desperate attempt of China to conquer foreign territories and the welcoming nature of African leaders; Africa is steadily becoming China’s China. It has been found that if an African country recognizes Taiwan as a country, they receive 2.7 fewer infrastructural projects, but if they vote overwhelmingly along with china in the UNGA, they receive 1.8 more infrastructural projects from China. Hence, most of the leaders of East African regions end up supporting China’s mandate for the supposed ‘greater good of their nations or under the obligation of the Chinese influence.
As once said by the President Thomas Sankara of Burkina Faso- “debt is a cleverly managed reconquest of Africa aiming at subjugating its growth and development through foreign rules. Debts origin come from the colonialism origin. Those who lend us money are those who have colonized us before. Thus making us financial slaves, true slaves of those who had been treacherous enough to put money in our countries with obligations for us to repay. African nations are predicted to stay in neocolonialism at least till they have natural resources.”
It is a well-recognized fact that China typically developed East African nations from scratch. Now, more than ever, both parties need each other. China is one of the permanent members of the UN Security Council and is expected to represent African grievances and safeguard their rights and safety. Africa on the other hand provides diplomatic support and precious raw materials to China. The best way to curb improper Chinese influence is for the West to provide investments, credits, and aid on better terms than China offers.
East African nations should keep the trades and employment flowing in but the leaders must not blindly follow the Chinese protocols and strategies confirming Africa’s development but at the hidden cost of possible territorial occupation endangering the future of the country as a whole. Because if there’s isn’t any country left to govern, what good the current employment opportunities will do - should be an important wake-up call for the East African leaders out there.
“Cooperation and Development between China and East Africa” by Abdilahi Ismail Abdilahi
"China in Africa-the Good, the Bad and the Ugly" by Prof James Blignaut