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Thread: China's Expanding Role in Africa

  1. #21
    Council Member Rob Thornton's Avatar
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    Mark,
    Superb Post - the figures, who is doing the investing, how they are investing, where they are investing and the result of the investments all provide perspective.

    Based on what you wrote, do you think the attention is good or bad for Africa?

    Thanks, Rob

  2. #22
    Council Member Mark O'Neill's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rob Thornton View Post
    Mark,
    Superb Post - the figures, who is doing the investing, how they are investing, where they are investing and the result of the investments all provide perspective.

    Based on what you wrote, do you think the attention is good or bad for Africa?

    Thanks, Rob
    G'Day Rob,

    Frankly, I think that a good or bad outcome is in the balance. In the best case scenario (ie everyone plays 'nice' and acts in accordance with their rhetoric on the issue), things should be relatively 'ok'.

    I say relatively because my experience in Africa tells me that that even the 'good' can often work out in a way that we might see as 'not quite right' but at the same time be 'quite acceptable' from a local standpoint.

    The worst case scenario is a nightmare that would make us and the Africans look back at the proxy wars of the Cold War as the 'good old days'. Any number of issues - Strategic competition between US/ China / Europe; the growth of Islam (or radicalisation) on the Eastern Littoral (or Nigeria) ; HIV AIDS; heightened trade imbalances post Doha, Environmental issues (deforestation/ drought/ global warming) to name but a few, could act singularly or in some unfortunate concert to really shake things up.

    Which way you think it will go can often come down to whether you are feeling like the glass is half full or half empty on any given day.

    I believe that a key factor to mitigate against the worst case situation occurring is developing true understanding of the likely issues in the West. In that way informed decisions can be made about what it all means, and what needs to be done. AFRICOM might offer some hope of helping the US with that, only time will tell.

    Cheers

    Mark
    Last edited by Mark O'Neill; 09-06-2007 at 05:10 AM. Reason: fixing syntax

  3. #23
    Council Member wm's Avatar
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    Default China's Latest Foray in Africa

    Here, from the BBC, is a great new idea for winning friends and influencing people that the Chinese have discovered.

    Zambia to have Chinese-built stadium

    Teams might train in the stadium ahead of the 2010 World Cup
    The Zambian and Chinese governments have signed an agreement for the construction of a 40,000-seater stadium in northern Zambia.
    Sort of trumps the US "give a kid a soccer ball" initiative that I have heard tell of being used in IZ/AF to help us win hearts and minds.

  4. #24
    Council Member Tom Odom's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by wm View Post
    Here, from the BBC, is a great new idea for winning friends and influencing people that the Chinese have discovered.



    Sort of trumps the US "give a kid a soccer ball" initiative that I have heard tell of being used in IZ/AF to help us win hearts and minds.
    Not new WM

    They built one in Zaire (now the Congo) in the 1980s that made a great tropical planter when I was there in the 1990s.

    The Chinese have been doing this all over Africa for decades. They are especially good at roads--I drove on them in Sudan, Rwanda, Uganda, and all over southern Africa--except South Africa although that relationship has changed dramatically since the 90s.

    Best

    Tom

  5. #25
    Council Member tequila's Avatar
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    Part of the old Sino vs. Soviet competition for H&M in Africa during the '70s and '80s. Zambia was always a main Chinese ally on the continent.

    The most remarkable part of the new wave of Chinese investment in Africa is the presence of large numbers of Chinese expatriates following Chinese companies. I predict that the Chinese will soon be as well-loved in Africa as they are throughout Southeast Asia (see the history of Africa's Lebanese and Indian populations for additional examples).

  6. #26
    Council Member wm's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by tequila View Post
    PI predict that the Chinese will soon be as well-loved in Africa as they are throughout Southeast Asia (see the history of Africa's Lebanese and Indian populations for additional examples).
    I trust there was meant to be sarcasm in this post. I seem to remember reading that the Chinese were in disfavor along the coast of East Africa back when there was still a Sultan in Zanzibar.

  7. #27
    Council Member Tom Odom's Avatar
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    Default Giving Up on Mugabe?

    Here is a relevant piece frpm McClatchy news services on China and Zimbabwe:

    China draws back from role as 'all-weather friend' to Zimbabwe
    BEIJING — China acknowledged Tuesday that it has slowed investment in Zimbabwe, a longtime African ally teetering on economic collapse, in a sign that it may be heeding Western demands that it quit backing regimes considered despotic.

    The withdrawal of economic support from Zimbabwe's largest investor and only major global backer is a serious blow to Robert Mugabe, an 83-year-old liberation hero who has clung to power in Zimbabwe for nearly three decades
    And in the same piece:

    Elsewhere in Africa, China continues its free-spending campaign for resources.

    The latest example came Monday in the Democratic Republic of Congo, where news reports say Chinese officials signed deals for $5 billion in loans for construction of railways, highways, universities, housing complexes and investment to extract minerals, such as cobalt, copper, gold and diamonds.
    best

    Tom

  8. #28
    Council Member Stan's Avatar
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    Default Africa: China-U.S. Trilateral Dialogue

    Sounds like we've kind of been on board for at least a year.

    The following is a summary of the Africa-China-U.S. Trilateral Dialogue, co-sponsored by the Brenthurst Foundation, the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, the Council on Foreign Relations, and the Leon Sullivan Foundation meetings in South Africa, China, and the United States in August 2006 and March and September 2007.

    Over the course of the last thirteen months, delegates from Africa, China and the United States have met three times in an effort to identify strategies of cooperation among their respective nations with the goal of accelerating economic development in Africa. The meetings were held in Tswalu, South Africa in August 2006, in Beijing, in March 2007 and in Washington in September 2007.

    The Trilateral Dialogue is a unique initiative. The purpose of this paper is to summarize the discussions which have taken place.

    The Trilateral Dialogue process is in no way complete. There are issues that are still under discussion and there are other issues on which we have noted areas of divergence. Nevertheless, there has been a great deal of convergence, and that is what we want to share at this time in the hopes that we might stimulate other initiatives that will benefit Africa.
    More at the link...

  9. #29
    Council Member Stan's Avatar
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    Default Who'll be the Global Soft superpower?

    Looks like WM nailed this one..India is taking lessons from the Chinese ?

    From The Times of India:

    China is soaking up resources in Africa and Latin America. And everybody else is eating their hearts out. Or are they? In its desire to lay hands on pretty much every mineral and fuel source it can find, China has laid out the diplomatic red carpet in these two regions. But while China has been totally unstoppable, India is moving in its slow, slightly chaotic way to improve its footprint in Africa and Latin America.

    The Chinese model is pretty straightforward - exchange between money and diplomatic influence in return for unfettered access to natural resources. Take Africa.

    The Indian model is very different. From India's freedom struggle and subsequent commercial success of the Indian diaspora in Africa, the non-aligned movement etc, India has been a subterranean constant. The difference was, India was more an inspiration than a way to fill coffers.

    But China forced India to think differently.
    Then there's a sweet post on the Chinese Embassy website in South Africa.

    China's ties with Africa also provide a buffer from international criticism: its policy paper says its relationships with many African countries are based on "independence, equality, mutual respect and noninterference in each other's internal affairs".

    This creates a quid pro quo relationship when China is investing in countries such as Zimbabwe or Sudan, in which neither side is questioned about human rights.

    In Angola, China's $2bn soft loan enabled the government to resist pressure from the International Monetary Fund to improve the transparency of its oil sector and to tackle corruption.

    African leaders have largely embraced China, with its anticolonial approach and ability to "get the job done".

  10. #30
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    Default PRC in Africa

    I agree with many of the posts made earlier today. I would suggest a somewhat different approach than "soft power," however. For example, see my SSI monograph on PRC influence in Africa here:

    http://www.strategicstudiesinstitute....cfm?pubID=766

    Tom Odom is absolutely correct: Communist China has been on the African continent for decades (since 1955, in fact). My PhD dissertation focused on PRC influence in Africa from 1955 to 1976; I hope to publish it in book format in the future.

    The quantity of PRC activities may, in fact, be greater in recent years; but the quality and intent remains the same.

  11. #31
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    JFQ, 4th Qtr 07: Dragon with a Heart of Darkness? Countering Chinese Influence in Africa
    While the United States has been preoccupied with global challenges to its security since 2001, China has used what it calls an independent foreign policy (a term Beijing uses to denote independence from American power) to achieve diplomatic, military, and economic influence in African nations in exchange for unconditional foreign aid, regardless of the benefiting country’s human rights record or political practices. This foreign policy undermines U.S. objectives intended to promote good governance, market reform, and regional security and stability, while concomitantly diminishing U.S. influence. China’s relationships with Angola, Sudan, and Zimbabwe, for instance, have enabled these countries to ignore international pressure and frustrated efforts to isolate, coerce, or reform them. Left unchecked, China’s growing influence will likely facilitate similar behavior from other African countries, stymieing U.S. efforts and leading to friction, if not outright conflict, between Beijing and Washington.

    The United States, therefore, needs a coherent and overarching strategy that coordinates its diplomatic, military, and economic instruments of power to counter China’s growing influence in Africa.....

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    Quote Originally Posted by bismark17 View Post
    Poole's latest book, The Terrorist Trail, goes into into detail about a Jihadist/African/China nexus that has been developing for a period of time that I find to be very interesting and credible.
    It would seem that the author's new book, Dragon Days, evaluates this relationship in greater detail. From his site (emphasis mine)...

    Within Dragon Days are two studies: (1) how a rising superpower may be encouraging Islamic insurgency to screen its own Maoist expansion; and (2) what America must do to curtail either. Ostensibly, that power also provides foreign aid to the affected countries. But, the corporations involved are little more than extensions of its army. Thus, those countries are obviously at risk. The U.S. military is ill-prepared for so subtle a confrontation. Instead of occupying such countries or training their armies, it must start to deploy "foreign aid workers in the law enforcement sector." Then, by the thousands, specially trained squad-sized units could anchor widely dispersed Combined Action Platoons. Their mission would be to help indigenous police and soldiers to reestablish local security. Without that security, there can be no viable counterinsurgency or operating democracy. Part Two of this book shows what U.S. infantrymen must know about criminal investigative procedure. Part Three contains the unconventional warfare (UW) tactical techniques they must practice. The latter are new to the literature and not covered by any U.S. military manual. They should allow tiny contingents of GIs to slip away unhurt whenever they get cut off and surrounded. Without this new kind of training, their only hope would be massive bombardment in, and forceful extraction from, heavily populated areas. Such things do little to win the hearts and minds of a population. This book provides the training and operations blueprint for winning an unconventionally fought world war. It also points to a hidden adversary.
    Given the quality of The Last 100 Yards, Tiger's Way, and Gunny Poole's other works, I'm looking forward to reading his thoughts on this subject.
    Last edited by Sage; 11-13-2007 at 04:27 AM.

  13. #33
    Council Member Mark O'Neill's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sage View Post
    It would seem that the author's new book, Dragon Days, evaluates this relationship in greater detail. From his site (emphasis mine)...



    Given the quality of The Last 100 Yards, Tiger's Way, and Gunny Poole's other works, I'm looking forward to reading his thoughts on this subject.
    You are joking right? China encouraging Jihadists in Africa? What planet did this idea come from?
    I have lived in sub-saharan Africa, operated there, and undertaken years of post grad study on Africa. Some facts that do not sit well with your post:

    1. Zimbabwe is not an Islamist nation - over 90 percent of the population are practising Christians, the rest subscribe to 'traditional beliefs'. Chinese influence on the Indian Ocean littoral has nothing to do with Islam and everything to do with trade and access.

    2. China is far more worried about the rise of Islamic fundamentalism than the US is - China has significant Muslim ethnic minorities that are actively pursuing seperatist agendas. The idea that China would seek to encourage the spread of Islamic fundamentalism is, frankly, ridiculous. They have more to lose, literally, than many other nations .

    3. China's interest in Africa essentially distils down to a couple of compelling imperatives:
    a) energy security,
    b) sourcing minerals to keep their economic boom 'booming'; and
    c)denying Taiwan diplomatic access / recognition.


    I would strongly recommend that your paragon spends some time researching some facts before he writes more inaccurate drivel.
    Last edited by Mark O'Neill; 11-13-2007 at 10:48 AM. Reason: some spelling

  14. #34
    Council Member Tom Odom's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mark O'Neill View Post
    You are joking right? China encouraging Jihadists in Africa? What planet did this idea come from?
    I have lived in sub-saharan Africa, operated there, and undertaken years of post grad study on Africa. Some facts that do not sit well with your post:

    1. Zimbabwe is not an Islamist nation - over 90 percent of the population are practising Christians, the rest subscribe to 'traditional beliefs'. Chinese influence on the Indian Ocean littoral has nothing to do with Islam and everything to do with trade and access.

    2. China is far more worried about the rise of Islamic fundamentalism than the US is - China has significant Muslim ethnic minorities that are actively pursuing seperatist agendas. The idea that China would seek to encourage the spread of Islamic fundamentalism is, frankly, ridiculous. They have more to lose, literally, than many other nations .

    3. China's interest in Africa essentially distils down to a couple of compelling imperatives:
    a) energy security,
    b) sourcing minerals to keep their economic boom 'booming'; and
    c)denying Taiwan diplomatic access / recognition.


    I would strongly recommend that your paragon spends some time researching some facts before he writes more inaccurate drivel.

    In one word, agreed.

    Tom

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    Council Member carl's Avatar
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    During the time I was in Chad and the DRC, we rarely saw the Chinese. We knew they were around doing many things, but we rarely saw them. The only Chinese I saw were the owners and some staff at Chinese restuarants, and the staff at a Chinese army hospital in Kindu and a Chinese navy base near Bukavu. The army and navy people I never saw outside the confines of their perimeters.

    We went to a Chinese restaurant in N'Djamena and the owner and some of the waitress' were Chinese. N'Djamena is pretty close to nowhere, but there they were. I was impressed.

  16. #36
    Council Member Stan's Avatar
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    Default Concur !

    Quote Originally Posted by Tom Odom View Post
    In one word, agreed.

    Tom
    Sage, welcome aboard and please take a moment here and here.

    I fully concur with Mark, Tom and Carl...Bogus comes to mind. I'll bet my 10 years in Sub-Sahara (7 countries).

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mark O'Neill View Post
    You are joking right? China encouraging Jihadists in Africa? What planet did this idea come from? ...I would strongly recommend that your paragon spends some time researching some facts before he writes more inaccurate drivel.
    Ignoring the Aussie frankness in your post as well as the grade school foreign policy lesson, I actually tend to agree with you regarding China's role in Africa and, as I've communicated to the author, am not yet convinced that China is waging a war by proxy there or elsewhere. My main interest in the text is the author's focus on integrating law enforcement skills with traditional soldiering in such regions.

    A few points, however:

    1. The author, I believe, focuses on northeast Africa. Specifically, the role played by Islamists in Sudan and Somalia, as well as the various factions that have been established in that region since the early 90's. There is no mention of Zimbabwe.

    2. Some might make the case that declaring, quite simply, that there is a single demonstrable Chinese foreign policy is about as rational as declaring a single European foreign policy. China's leadership is a motley crew of different interests and organizations, not all of whom are on the same page or working from the same play book. While I'm not yet convinced of its existence, it would be naive to believe that encouraging a proxy war in North Africa is wholly beyond the realm of intellectual possibility. The PLA and CMC, many argue, have entirely different goals than the NPC.

    3. The author in question, John Poole, is a well-respected retired NCO whose books are often forwarded by this forum's very own "paragons," including Bill Lind and Bruce Gudmundsson. He is one of the men directly responsible for integrating maneuver warfare theory into Marine Corp doctrine, and his books, The Last 100 Yards and Tiger's Way are considered by many to be the best texts on small unit tactics published in quite some time. None of which makes him an expert on Africa, but it would be disrespectful to describe him as a man given to proffering "inaccurate drivel."

    In addition, the man's probably spent more time in the regions discussed than you and I combined, so, while dubious of his assessment of Chinese foreign policy, you'll forgive me if I'm not as comfortable dismissing his analysis so quickly. I'd prefer to read the book first.


    Sage, welcome aboard.
    Thanks for the welcome, Stan.
    Last edited by Sage; 11-13-2007 at 04:17 PM. Reason: More properly identified perceived "vitriol" as old fashioned "Aussie frankness."

  18. #38
    Council Member tequila's Avatar
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    1. The author, I believe, focuses on northeast Africa. Specifically, the role played by Islamists in Sudan and Somalia, as well as the various factions that have been established in that region since the early 90's. There is no mention of Zimbabwe.
    I'd like to see any evidence at all of Chinese involvement with jihadist groups in either Sudan or Somalia, unless you want to make the rather questionable leap of identifying the Bashir government as jihadist in orientation (an appellation dubious to most Sudanese groups, but probably better fitting the Darfuri Justice and Equality Movement given its brief alliance with Hassan al-Turabi than the Sudanese government).

    With regards to Somalia, I think the Somali Islamists and indeed most Somalis probably look rather askance at the Chinese, given Chicom support and investment in their archenemy Ethiopia, which has already fomented ethnic Somali backlash in the Ogaden.

    To call China's policy in the Sudan or in the Horn a "proxy war" or an alliance with the jihadis requires a rather profound leap of the imagination. I respect Gunny Poole's work, but that doesn't mean I buy into all of it (especially those clipart illustrations!). For instance his amalgamation of all of non-Western warfare into a single culturally-based clump reflects the worst generalizing impulses of Victor Davis Hanson and his ilk, just from the opposite vantage point (VDH despises all non-Western warfare, while Poole tends to valorize it --- both oversimplify to the point of uselessness --- but Poole at least has valid tactical concepts and insights).

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    Quote Originally Posted by tequila View Post
    I'd like to see any evidence at all of Chinese involvement with jihadist groups in either Sudan or Somalia...
    So would I.

    Most of the "suspicious" relationships presented in the author's Terrorist Trail are extremely subtle and based on both old alliances of ideological convenience (such as China's training of the ANC, FNLA, and others in the 70's) and new alliances of economic convenience (such as the CNPC's interest in Sudanese oil refineries). And I, like you, am inclined to believe that the latter alliances are simply natural by-products of a nation attempting to address future energy needs. However, my experience with the Chinese is not as colorful as the author's, so perhaps he sees something that I do not.

    I respect Gunny Poole's work, but that doesn't mean I buy into all of it.
    As I thought I made clear, I haven't been convinced of anything. Nor am I taking an apologist position for the "Jihadist/China/Africa nexus" theory. I was simply advising a previous poster, one who expressed interest in Poole's thoughts on said theory, that the author's latest work supposedly deals with the topic in greater detail.

    That's why I used the
    quote
    function in my post.
    Last edited by Sage; 11-13-2007 at 06:38 PM. Reason: Grammar.

  20. #40
    Council Member Mark O'Neill's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sage View Post
    Ignoring the Aussie frankness in your post as well as the grade school foreign policy lesson,

    A few points, however:

    1. The author, I believe, focuses on northeast Africa. Specifically, the role played by Islamists in Sudan and Somalia, as well as the various factions that have been established in that region since the early 90's. There is no mention of Zimbabwe.

    2. Some might make the case that declaring, quite simply, that there is a single demonstrable Chinese foreign policy is about as rational as declaring a single European foreign policy. China's leadership is a motley crew of different interests and organizations, not all of whom are on the same page or working from the same play book. While I'm not yet convinced of its existence, it would be naive to believe that encouraging a proxy war in North Africa is wholly beyond the realm of intellectual possibility. The PLA and CMC, many argue, have entirely different goals than the NPC.

    3. The author in question, John Poole, is a well-respected retired NCO whose books are often forwarded by this forum's very own "paragons," including Bill Lind and Bruce Gudmundsson. He is one of the men directly responsible for integrating maneuver warfare theory into Marine Corp doctrine, and his books, The Last 100 Yards and Tiger's Way are considered by many to be the best texts on small unit tactics published in quite some time. None of which makes him an expert on Africa, but it would be disrespectful to describe him as a man given to proffering "inaccurate drivel."
    Sage,

    In rebuttal, the 'grade school foreign policy lesson' was offered in response to the 'preschool' assertions offered about China in your original post (and, to my mind, continued in your reply). I believe that if you want to stimulate 'graduate level' discussion it is probably best if you start off at that level, so people who do not know you at least have a hint that is the level you wish to discuss things at. Of course, this requires far more factual rigour than the assertions in your post either supplied or implied.....

    Secondly, I am unaware of any 'paragon' list at SWJ. I would be grateful if you could illuminate my ignorance and direct me to the appropriate link. I suggest that your sweeping generalisation about whom SWJ members are 'fond' of is wildly inaccurate. My time here has suggested that our membership views are wide and varied. By way of example, I hold no great / positive view about the wide spread application of the works of either the gentlemen you refer to.

    Thirdly, the fact that the author you cite is a widely respected former SNCO is neither here nor there with regard to his ability to write with authority or accuracy on wider geo-political issues. What exactly is your point in making this claim? I know literally hundreds of excellent serving and former SNCO, their innate ability as a soldier has no causal relationship with any ability as an international relations analyst. If someone presumes to claim authoritative knowledge of a subject it is reasonable to ask and examine on what basis the claim is made. As a rule, being a respected SNCO does not cut the mustard in establishing expert credibility across any subject you may care to name. This, of course, does not preclude your author from being such an expert - it merely establishes that he is not one simply because of the fact that he was a 'respected SNCO'.

    Finally, I find your comment about Aussie 'frankness' stereotypical and inappropriate. I believe that unwillingness to swallow inane assertion or ignorance is not something unique to me or my countrymen. I have found it to be to be a trait that is shared by many of friends from the USA, UK and Africa....

    Mark
    Last edited by Mark O'Neill; 11-14-2007 at 12:16 AM. Reason: spelling

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