Fundamentals Of Modern Chinese Imperialism And Colonisation Of Africa: Focus On FOCAC By Austin Aneke
During the time of slavery and colonialism we had phrases like- “humanisation of Africa; taming the barbarians, and/or extending civilisation to the dark Continent”. However, modern societies are no more receptive to these ones.
BY AUSTIN ANEKESEP 17, 2018
The FOCAC (Forum on China-Africa Cooperation) 2018 meeting in Beijing has now ended. According to the signed action plan 2019-2021, the summit confirmed that China and Africa will implement eight initiatives bordering on “industrial promotion, infrastructure connectivity, trade facilitation, green development, capacity building, health care, people to people exchange, and peace and security”.
Historically, similar phrases were applied during all stages of Africa’s tortured development history. In real terms they mean nothing, but theoretically suit perceptions and mood of the world on the nature and ideal forms of acceptable political-economy relationships between countries and continents in neoliberal time.
During the time of slavery and colonialism we had phrases like- “humanisation of Africa; taming the barbarians, and/or extending civilisation to the Dark Continent”. However, modern societies are no more receptive to these ones.
Still on FOCAC, 2018, China also re-affirmed five principles of engagement with Africa, which it called “the Five-No Approach”. This approach entails – “no interference in paths to development, no interference in internal affairs, no imposition of will on African nations, no attachment of political strings to assistance, and no seeking of selfish political gains in investment and financial cooperation”.
Again these are outright lies, save for the fact that China is not interested in reducing human rights violations and corruption in Africa. If Paul Kagame decides to jail his political opponents in Rwanda for daring to be political opponents, it’s his business. If Buhari of Nigeria continues to look away while herdsmen continue to kill Nigerians, it’s his business. If local African governments illegally expropriate land for Chinese “Belt and Land projects”, China will not ask questions. Chinese rules of engagement with African countries are as ruthless, evil, and unacceptable as communism which she practices, at her polity. Incidentally, China is cooperating and partnering with African rulers and not African people.
Nevertheless, some African analysists have praised Chinese model of engagement in Africa. In 2014, Dambisa Moyo, who proposed and promoted the idea of benevolent African dictators wrote an article and argued that “China is helping Africa to develop”. She lied. Make no mistake, China is re-colonising Africa with the same instruments used by slave dealers and ex-colonialists, Technology, and surplus Capital.
What are African countries bringing to the table? Nothing. Nigeria has not signed the intra Africa Trade Agreement because in reality, it has nothing to trade, save for the raw crude oil produced for her by western multinationals. In fact Africa is a continent without value added. Africa virtually produces no finished good that anyone outside Africa wants to buy.
The above facts have prompted some analysts to reflect on the “recent” massive involvement of China in Africa’s development and to critically analyse what is going on. Where did African countries miss their way, that after slavery, colonialism, neo-colonialism she has continued to be an uncompetitive beggarly continent now being spoon fed by communist China? How did China amass all the capital she is currently using as carrot in Africa, and why are African countries unable to do same? Are Chinese loans beneficial to Africa? Is China really helping Africa, or simply adopted and adopting a new model of exploitation, mortgage, and re-colonisation of a docile un-competitive continent? Is Chinese infrastructure spending model yielding expected dividends for both parties? Is the belt and road initiative as it affects Africa, sustainable? Why is the most endowed continent also the most patronised, the poorest in reality, and the most fed with AID?
Something must have gone wrong.
One, may further ask again; what is missing in Africa's development process that made her vulnerable to slavery, "legitimate trade", colonial exploitation, exploitation by multinational companies, massive capital flight, and now further exploitation and humiliation by China? What is common among the present and past exploiters of Africa? What differentiates China from these external invaders/exploiters that made people like Dambisa Moyo to begin to refer to China as African Helper?
How do we begin to answer these questions?
Nevertheless, just note that Africa is the only continent today, being massively exploited by all other continents because she has refused to do what others have done. Africa will start becoming competitive when she starts adopting, adapting, creating, and/or stealing technologies, and applying them to produce goods and services to meet her needs. Every other continent from the Americas to Asia have done it, hence have all acquired the power to dominate, intimidate, and exploit. America stole the manuscripts from UK/Europe, and if you are observant, you must have heard US screaming that China stole and is stealing her intellectual properties, today.
They will scream, but it is game nations play, and the one and only rule is do not be caught.
Africa is pejoratively being asked to concentrate in agriculture, because according to them, she has a comparative advantage in this area. At the same time, Africa is the only continent today, where hunger kills human beings. What a paradox. Africa cannot be competitive in any sector of world trade without her own technological manuscripts. As I have already indicated, she must either adapt, adopt, copy and/or steal the manuscripts in order to begin to be detected in world’s development radar, and to escape recolonization from even previously colonised countries and China.
So why is China really in Africa? China is in Africa as a direct consequence of the natural dynamics of techno-Capitalism. China is today asymmetrically engaged with Africa for no less a reason than why industrial revolution led Europe and America into Africa. So China is not in Africa because she loves or hates Africa; She is in Africa to feed the needs of techno-Capitalist industrial revolution, back home.
China is in Africa to exploit Africa's natural resources because Africa has failed to download available technology apps and manuscripts that would have helped her to extract and process her own resources. It is not just about what is happening in Africa via China, but about the revolution and change still taking place right inside China.
China overtook United States as the World's highest Co2 emitter in 2005. In 2010, while China emitted 8,286,892.0 Kt of Co2, USA emitted 5,433,056 Kt of Co2; (2,853,836 Kt) more than USA. China needs African solid, liquid, and gas fuels, to fuel her industries back home, and not in Africa to HELP Africa. This is not rocket science. This is why China is in Africa.
Africa represents the only world's continent available and ready to be exploited because her leaders have refused to join the league of downloaders of technology apps and manuscripts, and at the same time have not created the right environment for their people to do so. China is in Africa to do to Africa what Europe and America have always done to Africa; exploit and dominate. She is simply obeying the rules of techno-capitalism- exploit, colonise and recolonise. ( Aneke, 2014)
China is not just in Africa, she has huge presence on several intercontinental technological and Capital fronts, where it continues to manipulate currency and trade, and attempt to garner other people’s technological manuscripts. In August 2018, the US, under Defence Authorization Act, banned Chinese HUAWEI and ZTE, as they view the two Chinese telecoms as national security threats. The real tech giants operating in Africa are the goose that lay the golden eggs and are treated with soft gloves.
China’s presence in Africa is inevitable and never because she is consciously seeking to help to develop the continent. Her techno capitalist revolution is pushing her towards greater expropriation and domination of semi-docile territories. So the push factor for her is the huge techno industries at home, and the pull factor remains the untouched available natural resources, untapped by a technology and industry barren continent. China is obeying the rules of techno-capitalist revolution.
Some African leaders are under the illusion that China would help their countries to industrialise and develop. It will not happen. No sustainable development ever comes from outside; it always emanates from within. China, USA, Australia, Europe and UK historically achieved development from within, save for the little Marshall plan. If they help you to properly develop, who will buy their finished products?
Some analysts also advise that Africa needs Chinese capital to develop. It is not true. While 52 high profile cases with Nigeria’s EFCC are financially worth more than 8 billion dollars, FOXCONN, one of the biggest Taiwan/Chinese technology giants was started with only $7,500 dollars. Africa should apply her resources to the right sectors to achieve sustainable development.
FOCAS is one of the most dangerous initiatives in Africa. It guarantees excessive borrowings for initiatives that are elusive, expensive and unsustainable. These are borrowings that guarantee the mortgaging of future of Africa. It is on record that infrastructure projects executed in Africa by the Chinese come at rates possibly three times what it should normally cost.
Latest reports indicate that between the year 2000 and 2017, China has released loans worth a total of about £125 Billion dollars to Africa. Furthermore, during the just concluded summit meeting between China and Africa (FOCAC 2018) China, again promised to commit further £60 billion dollars in loans to African countries. This is dangerous because some African countries have been reported to have defaulted on existing Chinese loans. China is not Father Christmas, so she will find a way to recover its money. The loans are actually debt traps that will trigger tighter grips on African throats, on default.
According to Nigeria’s debt management office, as at June 2018, Nigeria’s debt has risen to $73.21 billion (22 trillion naira). It is believed that a substantial part of the accumulated debt is linked to recent loans from China.
Whichever way you want to brand Chinese presence in Africa- Belt and road Initiative, Social Intervention, or FDI; one thing is clear, these interventions in Africa are aimed at profiteering and exploitation. The reason is because Africa is not on equivalent footing with any other continent with regards to capital, expertise, technology, clout, and confidence. Consequently, they are still unable to counter other continents’ carrots, aggression, arrogance, and ruthlessness. These countries like China fill huge holes and easily become the goose that lay the golden eggs.
At Chinese HOME front, China blocks and detests what she is doing in Africa. She defends itself against foreign investors via her “Renminbi FDI, which ensures that a foreign investor in China opens a dedicated deposit account to be used to pay for start-up expenses and also open another deposit account for funds derived from profits, liquidation, capital reduction, equity transfer, or early recover, to be used for reinvestment within China”.
According to Jeffery Sachs - before industrial revolution, the whole world economy was relatively at par. No part of the world was far richer than the other, and none was poor or underdeveloped in relation to others as we know it today. In other words, industrial revolution was the game changer.
“Even Karl Marx agreed that industrial revolution that transformed scientific knowledge to technology led to the creation of massive capital. Since industrial revolution in 18th century, we now know that technology tills the land, builds the roads, bridges, rails, (infrastructure); extracts and processes natural resources; and confers power to rule, dominate, exploit, and expropriate on any group, or nation that cares to embrace it. "Technological innovations often fuelled by governments, drive industrial growth and help raise living standards (Aneke: 2014).
Most nations/continents realised this simple but complex fact on time, and have adopted, adapted, downloaded and even stole all the technological apps and manuscripts emanating from industrial revolution in England. These nations further re-developed the magic of the steam engine. Africa is the only continent that has not repeated this revolution, hence uncompetitive and susceptible to exploitation.
First, nearly all the countries in Europe copied from England; then the great diffusion of technology manuscripts to USA. Asian countries including the ones normally referred to as tigers followed. They include India, Singapore, South Korea, and Hong Kong. Mr Deng Xiaoping, the reformist Chinese leader, made sure that China was not left out, hence in 1978, steered China towards a techno market economy. The result of Deng's efforts changed the world power balance. China became a political-economic monster, with huge capital ready for re-investment and exploitation of places like Africa. Chinese Industrial revolution now accords China the power to exploit and dominate and not to HELP ( Aneke, 2014).
The history of the world's political economy is the history of exploitation and domination. There is no country or continent that uses its technology generated capital to HELP another. Techno Capitalist dictionary has no HELP in it. This is not how the game works. Capital is always re-invested for greater exploitation, and the aim is always to re-invest in countries/continents that have shown hopelessness, impotence, and lack of will to help themselves.
Unfortunately, the only CAPITAL being invested by Africa in other continents are her billions of dollars stolen by her dubious leaders ( Aneke, 2014).
During the FOCAC meeting, African leaders arrived with their politicians (massive entourage) without technocrats. The Nigerian entourage were seen lining up to view master plans and models of infrastructures that their host country is getting ready to build in Nigeria. They did not arrive China with their own models. However, they have none, save for crude oil and other “rough diamonds”.
Nevertheless, barely 24 hours after the FOCAC meeting, Chinese businessmen landed in Lagos with their finished products to display to their Nigerian compradors to choose for imports from China. Whichever way you look at it China is working, winning, prospering not only at the expense of Africa, but any continent that fails to industrialise.
China is adopting a new world model for domination, expropriation, and appropriation. Gone are the days when Africans were physically enslaved and colonised. So places like China come up with a new and upgraded model of exploitation, expropriation, and appropriation, imbued in an amorphous programme called “Belt and Road Initiative”.
So what is “Belt & Road Initiative? It has been reported that this unusually named initiative is armed with about 1 trillion dollars targeting infrastructural developments beneficial to China, outside China. Chinese foreign minister tagged this initiative “a symphony of all relevant parties”.
Nevertheless, the fact is that this initiative is aimed at linking economies beyond China in a way hugely beneficial to China, via “a modern silk road”. The UK Guardian in 2017, considered it “the biggest development push in history”. The intended maritime link (called road), targets to connect Southern part of China with East Africa and the Mediterranean areas; while the “belt” attempts to connect China with Europe, via the Middle East and central Asia. This initiative has been involved in huge projects in Sri-Lanka, Cambodia, and Indonesia where China has built port, industrial park, and high-speed rail, respectively.
China consciously uses these projects to export her steel, cement, and other technologies. Inland China has already saturated hence the need for export market. A major consequence of all these is that the economy of Xinjiang is being boosted and linked to neighbouring countries.
India considers this initiative a ploy to “seize the Indian Ocean” and their current prime minister said that “China is undermining the sovereignty of other nations” (Guardian, 2017).
The only revolution still waiting to happen in the world is the African industrial revolution. This is the revolution that will keep every continent to itself, or get them to collaborate on equal basis, mutual respect, and partnership. While Africa is not being detected in the world technology radar, she is very visible in every corruption index (Aneke, 2014)
The most worrying bad news is that Africa (especially, south of the Sahara) is not making any serious efforts to endogenously create her own tech manuscripts and apps to pull her from subservience. Out of the 4,075,279 trademark applications filed in the world in 2012, not a single one emanated from Africa South of the Sahara; and out of the 2,170,132 patent applications filed in same period throughout the world, none came from Africa South of the Sahara. How will Africa find its footing in world's techno-political economy with this level of progress? (Aneke, 2014)
Until African leaders begin to download western technological applications and manuscripts, she will continue to be subservient to others. African leaders should start creating Africa's tech zones, start speeding up the catch-up and diffusion, and commence adopting, adapting tech apps and manuscripts. If they don't, even other Asian tigers like Singapore, Hong Kong, South Korea and Malaysia would start trying their hands on the sleeping giant ( Aneke, 2014).
Chinese presence in Africa is for exploitation, expropriation, and recolonization- period.
Austin Aneke is the founder of june12post.com and Editor of UK Immigrant Magazine, and also the Author of the book- Challenges of Development in Africa.