The Battle for Africa
China has offered $20bn (£12bn) in loans to African countries over the next three years, cementing an alliance that appears increasingly hostile to the west.
Hu Jintao, the Chinese president, promised the credit line – double the amount China pledged for the previous three-year period in 2009 – on Thursday during the opening ceremony of the Forum on China-Africa Co-operation in Beijing.
China’s non-judgmental approach to business continues to gain traction with African governments, who say they will no longer tolerate being lectured by a hypocritical west that includes their former colonial masters.
Criticism that Africa is allowing its natural resources to be exploited, and that China is content to bolster dictators and ignore human rights abuses, merely feeds the partners’ anti-western sentiment. Via The Guardian
If I asked you to name a continent that the United States as a whole has no interest in I’m pretty sure most of you would sound off with the exact same answer; Africa. It isn’t a surprise that the people and government have no interest in Africa (well maybe South Africa) because there really isn’t anything there but wildlife and starving children. Many empires have tried to build Africa into something greater with the last being the British but all have failed. Most have actually ended up destabilizing the people more so than before. Africa though is quickly becoming a quiet interest of two superpowers and it has the potential to become the next Cold War.
Africa has long been undervalued by the world that deemed it a barren wasteland with too little resources to actually make a profit. Not only that but the number of countries, tribes and peoples made it almost impossible to make agreements stick. In America the only time you hear of Africa is in a news report about tribal warfare or civil wars not to mention aids. One word has never crossed the minds of many when they think of Africa and that word is oil. With world resources becoming more and more expensive by the day and with a growing China eager to sponge up key resources the superpower has turned to Africa and all her resources.
Sudan is Africa’s largest producer of oil. You may remember it because there was recently a little spat over an oil town between Sudan and the newly formed South Sudan. South Sudan claims the town as its territory and not surprisingly China was recently accused of provoking conflict in the region by funneling arms to the South Sudanese Armed Forces. China has a major stake in the Heglig oil field where the battle was taking place. 2010 estimates put all of Sudan’s oil exports at about $10 billion dollars yet China just pledged $8 billion dollars to South Sudan for major development projects highlighting how serious they are about their partnership with the newly formed nation that now produces more oil than its northern counterpart.
The other major resources that China has been furiously tapping into are copper, timber, natural gas, zinc, cobalt, iron, you name it. Africa has vast resources that are vital to the manufacturing of today’s technology something that has recently skyrocketed in price due to China buying so much of these “rare earth elements”. China hasn’t had any competition in Africa since the United States has been busy focusing on things like terrorists for the last decade however with the war in Afghanistan drawing to a close and America shifting its military focus it appears that Africa is of greater concern than ever before.
The United States is now spying across all of Africa
The U.S is rapidly expanding efforts to provide intelligence, training and at times small numbers of forces to African nations, to help counter terrorist activities in the region, the top American military commander for Africa said this week. The military now has more Special Forces troops in Africa than at any time in history due to recent efforts to “hunt” the now infamous Joseph Kony. The announcement by Gen. Carter Ham, head of U.S. Africa Command, isn’t really a surprise considering the amount of activity in the region which includes anti-piracy operations but what isn’t being mentioned about these expanded efforts is the elephant in the room.
Throughout the last decade China has shored up many allies in Africa by increasing production and exports by over 2,000%. China has become the dominant economic force in Africa with one former U.S. assistant secretary of state calling it a “tsunami.” Some are even calling the region “ChinAfrica.” There is currently more Chinese living in Nigeria than ever were British during the height of the empire. Over 1 million Chinese are estimated to live in the region. And unlike the United States, who sets out to spread Democracy, China is only there for the goods and that has helped them woo many African leaders. China has also won the love of the people who see China as a moneymaker rather than one who backs thugs and then abandons them when they’re needed most – the United States for example.
A recent report by oil giant Royal Dutch Shell makes for sobering reading. In its worst-case scenario, Shell predicts that the coming decade will see the world’s governments engaged in an increasingly desperate and ruthless “scramble” to secure energy supplies and natural resources, one that could trigger a new wave of global conflict and massive environmental destruction. Shell’s alternative scenario has governments banding together to create “blueprints” for the future that embrace sustainability. “This will require hard work, and time is short,” warns Shell CEO Jeroen van der Veer, sounding more like a heckler from Greenpeace than the head of one of the world’s six oil supermajors. In other words, humans are at a juncture: blueprint or scramble?” Via Fast Company
As the 2008 article by Richard Behar points out, it is time to scramble for resources in Africa. Actually it has been time to scramble for resources in Africa for 5 years but we missed that bus by a wide margin. America still doesn’t have the collateral on hand to make up for China’s massive influence in the region it does seem that we at least know we screwed up. Now we are trying to make up for it with “military cooperation” which thanks to the war on terror is basically an excuse to spy everywhere we go. If America was uncovering Chinese spies in the United States I can only assume that with the largest spy budget in the world that we are closely monitoring China’s activity in the resource rich Africa. The race for resources is shaping up to be the Cold War of the 21st century and unlike the 1950s the Communists already have both feet through the door and are sprinting to the finish line.