President Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe with People's Republic of China Senior Military Commission Cheif Air Marshal Xu during a visit to Harare. The two countries have close ties going back decades., a photo by Pan-African News Wire File Photos on Flickr.
China, US in stiff competition over untamed Africa
Tuesday, 06 September 2011 02:00
Africa has of late remained in the spotlight of the world because of its vast and untapped natural resources, which are critical to global economic turnaround. This is what has brought competition between China and America as they try to outwit each other and win the hearts of African governments, especially those with vast untapped resources.
The United States of America and China in particular are in pitched battle to upstage each other in terms of winning contracts in the mining of oil, diamonds, gold, platinum and uranium among other resources.
The protracted struggle to win the heart of African government has become a cold war, in which tactics are changing every minute, every hour and everyday.
While the Chinese have emerged smarter, without involving themselves in military conflicts or regime change, the United States has gone for a muscular approach centred of military interventions and economic sanctions.
Where the US has failed to use its military mighty, it has tried regime change with opposition political parties that are backed by economic sanctions imposed on the sitting governments. It is categorically clear that the future world economic power is going to be China, given that everyone is looking east, including the Americans themselves with projections that China will eclipse America by 2014, which is just by the corner.
US is worried about the rate at which the Chinese are winning contracts in Africa, hence it has established a military outfit called Africom, to elbow out China and other fair players like Russia.
The US has sought co-operation with Britain, France and other countries to encircle China and Russia and make sure that they do not easily win contracts in Africa. But the Chinese are tricky, they have identified with the revolutionary and liberation credentials of Africans and hence are more acceptable dealers, who have also brought into Africa affordable goods.
Besides Africom, which African liberation movements view as evil and a tool for re-enslavement, America and its allies have sought to tarnish Chinese products through a media blitz, yet they have starved Africans, like Zimbabweans of goods and trade, under the guise of sanctions.
While the US is heckling with Africa's liberation movements, the Chinese are busy cutting deals and assisting African governments develop their capacity to exploit their own resources. To this day, the American and their allies have sponsored a lot of conflicts in Africa and are sponsoring many opposition political parties through Usaid, DFID, Oxfarm, Ford Foundation CIDA and SIDA and so on, yet the Chinese and their Communist Party are giving loans and grants to struggling African government, hence they get contracts, when need arises.
US' dilemma is that it is trying to use more of its muscles than its brains in getting to Africa's natural resources, and therein lies its failure to cut an acceptable business figure and fair dealer status in the view of Africa's non-puppetry governments.
Even when African governments enjoyed a patch of independence from the 1960s, no one had thought that the countries would until today remain unfree economically. The euphoria, the pomp and fanfare, brought about by the feeling of having finally dethroned colonialism, has now died down as Africa faces a new sad reality, about a more subtle colonial import by the West, led by the United States of America.
The same vast natural resources that attracted colonialists to Africa remain in abundance, despite being plundered for decades running into a century and the lot that remains in what America is eyeing and it will do anything to close out other players like the Chinese and Russians.
Even if this means regime change and military intervention, the greedy Americans will do it.
Having realised that brazen colonialism was untenable in modern day society, America and its allies are now fast identifying natural resource hubs, analysing the governments there and then effecting regime change, replacing them with governments that are compliant to their wish to plunder the natural resources.
The Chinese are not by any measure interested in brazen regime change and have not made a single a manouvre for military intervention in Africa like what the US is doing through Africom.
Africom was established in 2008 clearly to drive the American agenda in Africa militarily and African governments, especially those with a revolutionary or liberation movement background detest that idea and have been mobilising against housing Africom.
The Sadc region has been very strong against this idea and given what happened in Libya recently, the African Union must mobilise and whip everyone alongside Sadc region's Africom stance. It is the way to go and Aferica needs a stance like that.
Once Africom sets foot in Africa, no one can stop it. Once Nato set foot in Libya, who could stop it? Knowledge is power and history is a big tool in decision-making. It is a good walking stick into the future. There is an African proverb, which says clever birds build their nests with other birds' feathers and America is quite astute, when it comes to that.
American foreign policy has serious predatory instincts, when it comes to plundering oil, platinum, uranium, land, gold etc, and the US will use its military sophistry and mighty to gain access to these resources.
The west made sure that Africa remained focused on Eurocentric democracy, good governance but not on how to, protect, control, exploit, market and do value addition on the vast natural resources.
The supposed democracy, good governance and a myriad of other terms are meant to provide a smokescreen behind which the new generation of imperialists, would hide their regime change antics and remove all African leaders standing as barriers in the resource exploitation chain.
The imperialists then formed numerous non-governmental organisations to put pressure of the political leadership, especially that which proves to the vanguard of Africa's dignity and humanity.
Any leader who has tried to stand up measure for measure with the imperialists has been gibed a senseless dictator, inhuman and so forth. In this case in point, African leaders like Mohammed Siad Bare, Kenneth Kaunda, Samora Machel, Al Bashir, Mengistu Haile Mariam and President Mugabe among others, have been put under unnecessary pressure to avoid real liberation paths, that would advantage the Africans and disadvantage the Europeans. They had their different approaches to life in their countries and handled situations as best as they could but it was the West's desire to milk those countries that landed these revolutionaries in trouble.
In the modern world day politicking, America, Britain and France have emerged among the worst dictatorial governments, trying at every cost to oust all African leaders who protect their natural resources.
In fact, African politics are at the mercy of these countries and their allies and African has been reduced to a punch bag. The only strength left is to fight for the control of all natural resources and look for fair dealers, like Russia and China, who are concerned mainly with business deals and not internal politics.
Each African country should have an inventory of the natural resources it has put on the AU data base for assistance in proper mining and management, without being subjected to exploitation that is control by US and it allies.
For example why should America dictate how Zimbabwe should get and expose its diamonds, when America itself does not produce even 10 percent of the world's diamonds?
How can a person without a milking cow try and control the dairy market? It goes to say that Africa has the resources that America and its allies desire and that America should not be allowed to dictate how and who Africa sells the resources to.
Americans should compete with other countries in buying resources so that Africa has the choice on who offers the better deal but at the moment America wants to take everything. They want their military mighty to prevail and they want to elbow out everyone, especially China and Russia. America urgently goes for regime change and craft laws and regulations meant to make it difficult for the other competitor to access for fair trade deals in Africa. At this stage does not need another war. All Africa requires are fair dealers and not war mongers. All what Africa needs now are business partners who are not divisive in nature.
Africa needs business partners to assist it develop through exploitation and value addition on its vast natural resources. Africa does not need to negotiate with someone pointing a gun at it. That is not business but thuggery. Africa for African and African resources should have their prices determined by Africans themselves.
--Professor Achiku Mustafah Haji is a lecturer of history at the University of Lilongwe, Malawi. DayAfrica.com