Military Review

Chinese footprint in Africa: China is crowding out the USA and Europe

The African continent, which until the mid-twentieth century was the "fiefdom" of the European colonial powers, and then became the scene of the geopolitical confrontation between the United States and the USSR, is now increasingly becoming a field for the realization of China’s economic plans. In fact, China has been trying hard to penetrate into Africa since the 1950's - 1960's. These attempts became particularly persistent after the ideological demarcation of China from the USSR. Mao Zedong sought to gain support in the Third World countries, and Africa looked like a very promising continent.

China preferred to cooperate with a number of revolutionary regimes and movements in Tropical Africa. It is known that Maoism was sympathized, for example, by Jonash Savimbi, the leader of the UNITA rebel organization in Angola. Robert Mugabe in Zimbabwe, who also took on a number of Maoist concepts, also emphasized cooperation with China. Many other African leaders who saw him as a “third force” besides the USA and the USSR also flirted with China. For example, in Tanzania, where Julius Nyerere tried to build his own model of socialism, in the 1960s. Chinese military instructors trained partisans and military specialists for a number of rebel organizations and national armies of African states. Decades have passed, the Soviet Union collapsed, and economic competition has replaced the ideological confrontation in Africa. Now China is competing on the “Black Continent” with the United States and the European Union. I must say - competing very successfully.

By the end of the first decade of the 21st century, China has become a key investor in Africa. Moreover, the nature of Chinese investment indicates that it has already outgrown the framework of a centralized program. Now not only the state and large Chinese companies are investing in Africa, but also many medium and small companies. Even Chinese small businesses are increasingly manifesting themselves on the African continent. Small businessmen from China open small trading shops, massage parlors, and medical offices in Africa. These services are in demand, and as a market, the African continent is very promising. Today, Chinese investment in African economies amounts to tens of billions of dollars, and every year their turnover only grows. Even Chinese government experts cannot calculate the exact volume of Chinese investments in Africa today. The fact is that many entrepreneurs invest in bypassing the state, including through offshore zones. Therefore, it is possible that in reality the level of Chinese investment is even higher than the representatives of the PRC leadership themselves imagine.

Zimbabwe was one of the first African states to fall under the full political and economic influence of China. History Sino-Zimbabwean relations go back to the era of the Cold War and the confrontation between the great powers in Africa. When the partisan struggle of the national liberation movement of local peoples against the white leadership of the country launched a partisan struggle in the territory of modern Zimbabwe, then called Southern Rhodesia, the Soviet Union relied on the organization of the ZAPU — the Union of African People of Zimbabwe, headed by Joshua Nkomo. ZAPU relied on the support of the Ndebele people and mining workers, and was in more moderate positions.

In turn, another, more radical organization - ZANU - African National Union of Zimbabwe headed by Robert Mugabe - began to focus on China. In 1980, it was ZANU Robert Mugabe who came to power. Thus, a pro-China state appeared in Africa, initially obliged to the PRC for military and organizational support during the national liberation struggle. After Mugabe came to power, China received almost unlimited opportunities to participate in the economic life of Zimbabwe. Beijing allocated large financial loans to Harare, in gratitude for this Mugabe always supported any actions of the Chinese leadership in domestic and foreign policy. For example, when an anti-government demonstration was dispersed in China in 1989, Robert Mugabe officially supported the policies of the PRC and the Chinese Communist Party.

However, for a long time, close cooperation in the political sphere and the provision of loans were not accompanied by the development of economic relations between countries. The role of China in the Zimbabwean economy began to increase after the introduction of EU and IMF sanctions against the Mugabe government. In ten years, trade between China and Zimbabwe has grown from 197 million dollars to 1102 million dollars. China supplies Zimbabwe with industrial products of the most diverse nature, and Zimbabwe ships diamonds, steel, platinum and chrome to China. Chinese companies have long been mining for minerals in Zimbabwe, the Zimbabwean market is flooded with cheap Chinese goods. This causes a mixed reaction of local residents who do not like the fact that “white farmers” are replaced by Chinese merchants as the shadow owners of the country. However, Zimbabwe has nowhere to go - now the country's economy is already tightly tied to cooperation with China. China remains one of the few states that cooperate with Zimbabwe militarily. As is known, China continues to supply weapons for the armed forces of Zimbabwe.

Meanwhile, China does not allow itself and excessive generosity with respect to the Zimbabwean regime. Unlike the Soviet leadership, who loved luxurious gifts to African “ideological close ones” regimes, China in 2014 demanded Zimbabwe to immediately repay the debt in the amount of 180 million dollars. Otherwise, Beijing threatened to stop further lending to the Mugabe regime. The Zimbabwean leadership has no choice but to raise funds to pay off the debt - after all, China doesn’t like to joke, and Harare was well aware that Beijing, if China’s economic interests require it, will not stop financing Zimbabwe, even though Robert Mugabe’s ideological commitment to their chinese partners.

By the way, in the event of a change in the political regime in Zimbabwe (and Mugabe is already over ninety - and the coming to power of a new leader is only a matter of time), China will retain its political and economic influence in this country with almost one hundred percent guarantee. For Beijing, the main thing is to preserve its economic position in the country, so the Chinese leadership, if necessary, will calmly establish a dialogue with the forces that will replace the current Zimbabwean leadership.

Despite the special nature of Sino-Zimbabwean relations, Zimbabwe today is not included in the list of African countries leading in attracting Chinese investment. The state of the Zimbabwean economy, to put it mildly, is far from ideal - the sanctions and the numerous mistakes of the government affected. China, in turn, is interested not so much in ideologically as in economically promising countries. In the first decade of the 21st century, the most developed economic relations were formed by China with South Africa, Nigeria, Algeria, Sudan, and Zambia. In the middle of 2000's. these countries accounted for up to 70% of Chinese investment in African economies. Unlike the United States and European countries, which indicated their economic presence in Africa, primarily humanitarian aid, China immediately focused on investment. Europe and the United States sent humanitarian aid, and China invested in the construction of industrial enterprises, the development of trade and agriculture. Thus, Chinese economic policy turned out to be more effective, because it made African states dependent on investments. Unlike ultimate humanitarian aid, investment has clear perspectives and is useful for African countries themselves. Therefore, the attitude of African governments towards Chinese investment is more serious and thorough.

Chinese footprint in Africa: China is crowding out the USA and Europe

China, unlike the United States and the European Union, is not afraid to invest in the most risky projects in the most problematic African countries - and because of this, it also wins rather than loses. For example, in recent years, China’s cooperation with Nigeria is gaining further momentum. It is one of the largest countries in the African continent. But, despite the relatively higher level of development compared to other countries, Nigeria also has many problems, including infrastructural ones. The construction of railways and highways, power stations, and oil refineries, which China has in Nigeria, have a productive impact on the development of the Nigerian economy.

On the other hand, China is actively investing in the construction and modernization of mining enterprises in northern Nigeria. As you know, the northern states are a very problematic region. When the British colony was still in Nigeria, the authorities did not pay enough attention to its development. In fact, medieval feudal relations were mothballed here, there were traditional Emirates and the Sokotan Sultanate, which had independence in internal matters. The industry in the north of Nigeria practically did not develop. Now there is a very high level of religious fundamentalism. This is aggravated by such social problems as high birth rates with very high unemployment. The youth of the region simply have nowhere to work, and the emergence of Chinese companies building mining enterprises immediately solves a number of problems in the region. Therefore, the country's leadership constantly emphasizes that relations with China are of great importance for Nigeria.

China has long-standing ties with Zambia. In the era of the Cold War, China also showed political activity in this country, and today Chinese-Zambian cooperation has shifted to the economic plane. Zambia is interested in China, first of all, as one of the largest suppliers of copper, cobalt, nickel. China is the world's largest consumer of copper, so relations with Zambia, where large copper mines operate, are of fundamental importance for Beijing. In February 2007, the first free economic zone of China was opened in Zambia - in Chambishi. Thirteen Chinese companies are located on the territory of the Chambishi economic zone. In 2009, China opened a subzone in Lusaka, the capital of Zambia. Here, Chinese companies produce clothing, household appliances, electronics, and tobacco products.

Following Zambia, China created a number of free economic zones on the African continent. Thus, in 2009, the creation of the Jinfei economic zone on the island of Mauritius began, specializing in the textile industry and high technologies. In the same year, the Ogun zone project was launched in Nigeria, focused on the production of building materials, various computer and medical equipment, and food. The economic zone Oriental in Ethiopia is focused on steel production, electrical engineering. The Lekki zone in Nigeria was created for the production of transport equipment, textiles, home appliances, and the Suez zone in Egypt for the production of gasoline equipment, electrical appliances, textiles and automobiles.

China considers Africa, first of all, as the richest source of natural resources. For Beijing, the African continent in this regard is more of an interest than Russia. For example, African countries rank second after the oil monarchies of the Middle East for oil supplies to China. Angola is the most important supplier of oil to China, slightly smaller volumes are from Congo and South Sudan, followed by Nigeria and a number of other countries.

Claiming its influence in Africa, China acts not only by economic methods. In recent years, the scale of cultural cooperation between China and many African countries has increased. Chinese has long been studied in universities and colleges in many African countries, it is considered as very promising, so many young Africans prefer to learn Chinese, rather than English or French as before. Chinese cultural influence is very noticeable in the countries of Eastern and Southern Africa, primarily in Kenya. In the capital of Kenya, Nairobi, Chinese media are located. Numerous Chinese diasporas live in East Africa, numbering more than half a million people. They are also unconditional vehicles for Chinese cultural influence.

The military-political presence of the PRC in Africa is gradually increasing. If China had previously refrained from sending its troops to Africa, in the middle of the 2000s. Chinese peacekeepers have emerged in a number of African hot spots. In 2015, China signed a ten-year contract for the construction of a naval base in Djibouti. This will be the first military base of the People’s Liberation Army of China outside the PRC. Apparently, the emergence of a base in Djibouti is due to China’s need to protect the transportation of oil and other important natural resources from Africa and the Middle East.

China's activity in Africa does not go unnoticed by the United States. In many ways, it was she who led Washington to the creation of the African Command of the US Armed Forces (AFRICOM) in 2008, which, however, is based mainly in Germany and Italy. Although formally the command was created to counter terrorism and insurgents in the Sahara-Sahel region and in the Niger delta, in fact, everyone understands that its appearance was largely due to rivalry with China. True, the US has already lost economic competition in Africa: the volume of Chinese investment is several times greater than that of the US.
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  1. Pate
    Pate 26 January 2017 15: 24
    Well done, Chinese, ours, too, should do this while developing agricultural and modernizing our own industry, raising production that functioned during the years of Soviet power from nonexistence.
    1. Volzhanin
      Volzhanin 26 January 2017 22: 49
      What "ours"? Garbage from the kagal edrosov?
      They don’t have time to deal with them, and they just don’t know how to stupidly. This greedy thieves' rabble has nothing to do with either the Russian nation or the Russian peoples. The goal of these bastards is only one - to snatch as much as possible and to spoil more Russia and Russians:
    2. shooter18
      shooter18 28 January 2017 14: 31
      Chinese propaganda shows everything beautifully, in fact, the Chinese only need resources and they do not care about the Africans ..
  2. BNVSurgut
    BNVSurgut 26 January 2017 15: 28
    Thank you, I didn’t.
  3. Monster_Fat
    Monster_Fat 26 January 2017 16: 17
    China is an "imperialist predator" (ha ha, excuse the pun) there will be worse than the hard-pressed, Western capitalists. Most recently, I was in Guiana, and just talked with local comrades, who were not at all enthusiastic about the Chinese expansion. They complained that the Chinese were buying up or renting land and scavenging everything clean there, and then they were leaving everything to the local desert and raking up waste debris. Moreover, when they are engaged in their activities, they primarily enclose and organize tight security in order to prevent any leakage of information about what is happening there, organize the delivery of their labor and their material and equipment, up to food -explaining this with the fact that the tastes of the Chinese are supposedly very specific and the labor requirements are also specific and only the Chinese can work with the Chinese. So the Chinese are still those scoundrels and they don’t put a finger in their mouth, they will bite off their whole hand, or they will eat you up completely and not choke ...
    1. tol100v
      tol100v 26 January 2017 20: 25
      Quote: Monster_Fat
      China - "imperialistic predator"

      The expansion (economic and demographic) is designed for more than a dozen years, just as the collapse of the USSR did not take place in one five-year period! Global geopolitical changes have been prepared for decades! And unfortunately, China is doing well here!
  4. Free wind
    Free wind 26 January 2017 16: 36
    They are driving Americans out of Africa, cheers cheers cheers !!!!!. But the quick-eyed from Russia ousting Russians is how? And yes this is Putin’s great plan !!!!. On January 8, 40 kilometers away from the city of Tynda, a MTLB driven by a Chinese detachment crashed into a freight train. According to the driver, there were foodstuffs and 27 Chinese workers in the car !!!!!!!!! 27 !!!!!!!! the Chinese fled to the forest. None of them were found. MTLB belongs to the gold mines, and was sent to replenish food for workers, but there are no active mines in that area, and probably 27 pieces of quick-eyed ones ... this may be extra rations ?????
    1. Volzhanin
      Volzhanin 26 January 2017 23: 00
      Yes, at this pace, edrosnya and other liberal rabble in power, by 2018, will finally discredit and marginalize Putin.
      And then "October 1917 2.0 light" will begin.
      Actually, Putin has not yet done a damn, even to minimize the situation, and he has very little time left for maneuver ...
      Come what may! The main thing is to do what we must break through, despite the power of collaborators.
  5. knn54
    knn54 26 January 2017 17: 58
    -Monster_Fat: ... worse than hard-burned, Western capitalists will be.
    The Chinese are ready to put up with corrupt practices that have settled in many African countries. They don’t share technology. Cheap Chinese imports have FINALLY finished off the local small business ...
    - Pate: ours should do this too.
    To do this, you need to have a lot of "greens", which the Chinese have a lot of.
    PS More than 2/3 of African countries buy weapons from China.
  6. Moryarty
    Moryarty 26 January 2017 20: 22
    China took the best of the expansive policies of the USSR and the USA.
    The USSR took the principle of economic assistance. BUT reasonable help, not fraternization and gratuitous help to everyone who is for them (as the USSR did).
    He took the principle of economic capture of countries from the USA, and the economies of African countries are weak. BUT HP does not crawl with any "democracy", etc., and takes on a peaceful look.
    In fact, China is a new global superpower that has captured an unshared (by other powers) continent. As the Chinese themselves say, they are preparing their armed forces to participate in conflicts anywhere in the world, that is, they will finally become a superpower.
    1. megavolt823
      megavolt823 28 January 2017 12: 21
      Africa is a very rich territory. I understand for a person who does not know it sounds wild. many unexplored deposits of all you want. there are also explored. diamonds, gold, uranium, and the entire periodic table. there is oil too. hi
  7. antivirus
    antivirus 26 January 2017 22: 04
    Therefore, it is possible that in reality the level of Chinese investment is even higher than the representatives of the PRC leadership themselves imagine.
  8. Sergey-8848
    Sergey-8848 28 January 2017 04: 05
    Somehow, the Soviet Union died quietly, and with it the ideology was dug up. And now you can not hear in the news about progressive Benin or Mozambique (they were cited only as an example).
    Yes, they weren’t all hell to us or even comrades, but still the USSR had rather strong positions around the world (wherever it was necessary at this particular moment). We now have no friends or allies, and those who are currently attributed in this capacity are similar to the French at the end of 1812 (know Cher Ami, yes Cher Ami - generally skiers!).
    But the Chinese do not even bother with propaganda of Mao’s ideas among black tribes (they, too, after us realized that it is better to adopt an ideology when it is preached by a glossy rich man by his own example). I don’t hear something that Congo, Malawi, Liberia or some other Bantustan urgently took care of socialist construction with a Maoist bias, led by the advice of the CCP.
  9. Altona
    Altona 28 January 2017 08: 52
    Quote: Moryarty
    In fact, China is a new global superpower that has captured an unshared (by other powers) continent. As the Chinese themselves say, they are preparing their armed forces to participate in conflicts anywhere in the world, that is, they will finally become a superpower.

    To be a redneck with a moshny and holding mords does not mean to be great. China has very modest diplomacy, which is uncertainly showing its voice. As for the army, it is not known at all. Of course, soldiers spectacularly jump out of sand pits, climb on icy Christmas trees, proudly stand in a parade. But of the military operations, only the pathos evacuation of several of their compatriots from a pair of destroyers has been known recently. It is bad of course that our leaders do not work for their compatriots and do not even know that it is necessary to do so. I wanted Vietnam to write off 170 million, allegedly because of an obstacle in cooperation, and then you have Ho Chi Minh, please get it. But Ho Chi Minh, the signature has not dried up yet, they say that we are good-bye Rus, we will buy American aircraft and Israeli Galileans. For example, simple.
  10. jumbo
    jumbo 28 January 2017 17: 17
    The Chinese are a practical nation ... but Russia, a generous soul, has irrevocably invested so many billions in the third world, and no good, it would be better if we built roads, housing, schools, and, in general, a lot of things that we ourselves need.
    1. Reptiloid
      Reptiloid 5 February 2017 17: 24
      He invested money in the USSR, you knew Schaub.
      It would be better if the USSR was ........ without a hunchback, without a drunk, without corn ..