[A-List] More on China-Africa
Henry C.K. Liu
hliu at mindspring.com
Tue Jan 24 11:10:18 MST 2006
Is there any wonder why US neo-imperialists and their lackeys are
sending out disinformation about China, given Chinese challenge to
US dominance in Africa?
From the World Socialist Website:
China’s growing trade with Africa indicative of Sino-Western energy
By Brian Smith
24 January 2006
<http://www.wsws.org/articles/2006/jan2006/chin-j24.shtml> Email the
Trade between China and Africa jumped 39 percent to $32.17 billion in
the first 10 months of 2005, fuelled by increased oil imports and the
export of Chinese goods, largely textiles. This follows rises of 59
percent in 2004 and 50 percent in 2003.
The rate of increase in Sino-African trade could see China threatening
the United States’ predominant position in the next period. US-Africa
trade was $44.5 billion in 2004.
Energy is China’s main concern and over the last few years it has struck
or expanded on existing oil deals with Angola, Algeria, Chad, Equatorial
Guinea, Gabon, Nigeria and Sudan. Africa now supplies around one quarter
of China’s energy imports.
China is expected to overtake both the UK and France this year to become
the world’s fourth largest economy, and is growing at around 9.3 percent
per year. China’s trade surplus was $90.8 billion for the first 11
months of 2005, three times the level of 2004. This was boosted by
textile exports following the end of the quota system. China’s excess
capacity and reliance on exports is antagonising both the US and
In 2003 China overtook Japan to become the world’s second largest
consumer of oil after the US. Demand is increasing rapidly and its oil
consumption is growing by 7.5 percent per year, seven times more than
the US. China’s energy needs accounted for 40 percent of the total
growth in global oil demand over the past four years. It currently
imports about one third of its consumption, but is projected to import
two thirds by 2025.
By 2010 China is expected to have 90 times more cars than it had in
1990, and is projected to surpass the total number of cars in the US by
2030. China is also attempting to increase and diversify supplies,
particularly away from the Middle East, where it currently sources about
58 percent of it oil. Areas of interest include Russia, the Caspian
Basin, the Americas, the East China Sea and particularly Africa.
Africa contains about 8 percent of the world’s proven oil reserves, 70
percent of which is off the west coast in the Gulf of Guinea, which
stretches from the Ivory Coast to Angola. The low sulphur content of
West Africa’s oil makes it of further strategic importance.
Last year China displaced Japan as the second largest importer of
African oil after the US, which currently imports about 15 percent of
its oil from Africa. China first established a presence in Sudan’s
Muglad oilfields 10 years ago, and filled the vacuum when the US broke
diplomatic ties with Sudan in 1997. Currently between half and 60
percent of Sudan’s oil exports go to China, amounting to around 7
percent of China’s imported oil.
China has invested more than $8 billion in joint exploration contracts
in Sudan, including the construction of a pipeline from the southern
oilfields to the Red Sea and a tanker terminal at Port Sudan. About
10,000 Chinese people work in the country.
China has greatly increased its investments throughout the continent in
booming sectors such as mining, fishing, precious woods and telecoms,
but also in less profitable sectors neglected or abandoned by the West,
e.g., Zambia’s Chambezi copper mines and the supposedly exhausted oil
reserves in Gabon.
There are currently around 700 Chinese firms operating in 49 African
countries. According to the IMF Africa should experience growth of 5.8
percent this year, the highest for 30 years, fuelled in large part by
China’s trade with the continent.
“China is competing for anything and everything at this stage,” explains
Dianna Games, a South African economic and political analyst. “They know
Africa is wide open to them.”
China also exports manpower and technical expertise, sends doctors and
nurses to the continent, establishes scholarships for African students
at Chinese universities, trains African businessmen and trade officials,
and encourages Chinese businessmen to invest in Africa.
China has invested heavily in privatisations and infrastructure projects
intended to aid trade and the movement of goods, including: trains,
roads, buildings, electricity and phone lines, mining prospects and oil
refineries. It has also invested in tourism and has launched Nigeria’s
Since the China-Africa Forum in 2000, China has scrapped tariffs on 190
kinds of imported goods from 28 of the least developed African
countries, and cancelled $1.2 billion in debt.
China’s export bank has recently given a soft loan to Angola, which has
given it a stake in oil exploration in shallow waters off the coast. The
loan is to be used for infrastructure projects, many of which facilitate
the development of the petroleum industry and wider trade.
Projects under way include railways, roads, a fibre-optic network,
schools, hospitals, offices and housing developments of up to 5,000
units. A new airport with direct flights from Luanda to Beijing is also
The deal guarantees Angola just 30 percent of the construction
contracts, with Chinese companies expected to win the remainder. This
has caused some concern in Angola’s unions, but not in the government.
“Why would you stop these guys coming?” asks Isaac Maria dos Anjos, a
ruling party MP. “It absolutely will help the ruling party. We have to
build hospitals. We have to build bridges. And we will do a lot of it in
just one year,” i.e., before the next election.
Angolan Finance Minister Jose Pedro de Morais explained that Angola’s
infrastructure is being rebuilt quickly, which has helped it to
normalise relations with other banks who are now ready to expand their
lines of credit.
China’s loan, and its policy of non-interference, has made Angola less
interested in accepting an IMF conditional loan, which calls for
economic transparency and the opening up of its books to corporate
governance concerning its oil contracts.
The multinationals who have traditionally and historically exploited the
continent’s resources are alarmed at China’s rapid incursions into
African trade, as are US policymakers and the Western press.
Western analysts have criticised China by claiming that Chinese money is
enriching corrupt leaders, buying influence, gaining access to
resources, and is being used as a means to garner support regarding
Taiwan and United Nations Security Council issues.
Gal Luft of the neo-conservative think tank Institute for the Analysis
of Global Security, complains along these lines, saying that “it will be
much easier for [some African] countries to work with Chinese companies,
rather than American and European companies, which are becoming more
restricted by the publish-what-you-pay initiative and others calling for
The US Council on Foreign Relations has also issued a bipartisan report
accusing the Bush administration of lacking a comprehensive, long-term
strategy for dealing with Africa and urging policymakers to give it
greater attention. It calls for an upgrade in diplomatic and
intelligence capabilities by appointing an ambassador to the African
Union and opening more missions in key African cities, particularly in
The report criticises the shortcomings of a humanitarian approach, and
calls for a comprehensive elaboration of US interests. “The United
States must recognise and act on its rising national interests on the
continent through a far higher mobilisation of leadership and focused
resources that target Africa’s new realities.”
It lists a hierarchy of US interests: oil and gas; growing competition
with China; war on terrorism; HIV/AIDS pandemic; conflict resolution and
peacekeeping; democracy and human rights; and long-term economic
The report hypocritically bleats that China “does not share US concern
for issues of governance, human rights or economic policy.” Duncan
Innes-Ker, of the Economist Intelligence Unit, concurs. He believes
“Chinese firms are a little less ethically constrained” than their
China has become more forthright in its arms sales in line with its
growing economic influence. It sold an estimated $1 billion worth of
arms to Ethiopia and Eritrea during their border conflict between 1998
and 2000, comparable to the US selling arms to both sides during the
Iran-Iraq war. It has also sold arms to both Zimbabwe and Sudan whilst
they have been under Western arms embargoes, and has sold helicopters to
Mali and Angola, arms to Namibia and Sierra Leone, and army uniforms to
In 2004 China contributed more than 1,500 troops to UN peacekeeping
across the continent, primarily in the Democratic Republic of Congo and
Liberia. Chinese peacekeepers were sent to Liberia two months after
Liberia switched its diplomatic recognition from Taiwan to China. “The
centre of gravity of oil is shifting,” believes Daniel Yergin, chair of
the Cambridge Energy Research Associates. “Last year, Asia consumed more
oil than North America”.
This shift is having an impact on Africa where it will stimulate more
intense rivalries for access to that continent’s resources.
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