Robert S. Stewart email@example.com 27th/28th August 2018
The present swath of African leaders are too weak to stand up to China’s power. “Bribe me” is about all they can say. This fits China’s model for swamping the continent in their goods and services, wiping out centuries of Western influence which was not strong enough to take hold on the populations, given the fickle nature of their leaders. The takeover since the late 1980’s has been overwhelming: partly sparkling superficiality, partly stealth, but primarily overpowering. It is a continuation of how Africa has allowed the invaders onto their territories since the 1600’s.
The Chinese influence will not only destroy their domestic markets and future economies, it will wipe out African culture unless millions in their populations rise up and lead a Revolution of self-sustaining measures. Their infrastructure is extremely weak. Who can ignore a map of existing energy structures, roads and railways which do not crisscross the continent? Building their shoddy, yet glittery connections will destroy that effort unless millions rise up to stop it. Their leaders will accept that work for a few pieces of silver. There is nothing wrong with major infrastructure projects that will connect the one billion indigenous people. But it has to be built to last for centuries to come.
@Robert S. Stewart firstname.lastname@example.org If you want to enjoy the international game more fully, I suggest you abandon the established wisdom that China’s government acts in as much bad faith as our own.
If you abandon that preconception and take the Chinese government at its word–then check its performance against its promises–you will be surprised and delighted.
The Chinese, inveterate hard-asses who have suffered through every form of government and misgovernment in the past 100 years, give the present government thumbs up: 95% trust and policy support. Not surprising when you consider that it’s ket every promise in its Five Year Plans for 60 years.
Most countries that deal with China have been pleasantly surprised and, setting aside the usual squabbles, have admitted that they benefit from the relationship and suffer very few if any disadvantages. China’s trade with the world is in balance, it hasn’t attacked anyone for 40 years (even then, with US support) and its made a lot of foreigners rich.
What’s not to like?
Robert S. Stewart email@example.com
Virtually every statement you make misses the mark about me and what I stated.
I am an African, a Ugandan to be clear. I have lived in Africa since 1968 and criss-crossed the continent overland hundreds of times, by Land Rover and in the air. I have also toured, traded with, invested in, helped to build and understand not just my home continent, but much of the entire rest of the world.
I don’t know if that makes me an expert as an ‘internationalist’, by I am confident that after hundreds of billions of Dollars/Pounds/Francs/Euros of completed investment in extraction and infrastructure projects, I know what I am doing derived from personal, first-hand experience, not swallowing too much won ton soup.
I have witnessed first-hand, Chinese exploitation in Uganda (Owen Falls II Dam failure costing our country hundreds of millions of dollars to repair and replace; the shoddy construction of the Tazara Railway from Dar to Lusaka, and when that was finished, the disappearance of the entire elephant herd from the Masai Mara into Chinese cargo ships for the transfer of ivory tusks to Asian markets; the arming of terrorist rebels in a dozen sub-saharan countries that overthrew elected democracies left behind in the 1960’s; the arming of the Sudanese Army to slaughter villagers in Darfur throughout South Sudan; the fraudulent rape of the DR Congo’s resources in return for more shoddy infrastructure; the construction of frills such as football stadiums in most capitals indebting the continent for decades or a lifetime; bribes to officials on a par with the People’s Republican Army and Chinese Communist Party; and hundreds of other excruciating horrors inflicted on unsuspecting African villagers. The list of rampaging violations stretches into books of evidence over decades that could never be overlooked by history. Don’t tempt me.
These aren’t preconceptions, they are facts of modern African history and China’s role in it.
For you to call the past century of Chinese leadership ‘hard asses’ is a flagrant understatement of the murderous era’s of obliteration of anyone confronting the longstanding Communist Party. Check the facts and consult history again from the Long March to Tiananmen Square.
Unlike your false statement that most countries are thrilled with their relationship with China, why are so many like the US and several African countries questioning what happened? Only those that have benefited from the corruption of African leaders would stoop to acknowledge this claim.
“China’s trade with the world is in balance”? Where did you dig up this insanity. There are thousands of historical trade graphs producing the facts which you seem to bulldoze over with platitudes. But you are right on one thing. “It has made a lot of foreigners rich”. The problem is that it was restricted to buying off the African leaders and was not trickled down or redistributed throughout the billion empty mouths that still wonder what hit them.
I suggest you do as I did. Take a Land Rover from Casablanca to Cape Town and back to Cairo. Then report to all of us on your findings about China’s sordid history in Africa. You’ll be cured of any more flagrant misgivings about what is going on around the continent with a vengeance. Don’t let the scorpions with their Gucci bags in the five star hotels on their high heels bite you! Go out to the countryside.
@Robert S. Stewart firstname.lastname@example.org China’s present era of engagement with Africa begins in the 2000s. Ties had gone into a standstill in the 1980s and 1990s after misguided competition against the Soviet Union for third world allies had dampened and then disappeared.
If you want to discuss Maoism and engagement with Africa, then you have a starting point with your comment, but it doesn’t have much relevance to the present era.
Instead of a disorganized, litany of one-sided events presented as analysis, I try to approach the question of whether China benefits Africa with data and a framework for thinking.
1. What do you think is the number one measurable priority for Uganda to develop? (I’m not talking about creating progress, not simply measuring the effect of a cause.)
2. You are on the road a lot and I agree the focus of development should be on the countryside. Do you agree with the former Prime Minister of Ethiopia that an all-critical measure is the share of the countryside population with access within 2km to an all-weather road?
3. If the Chinese system of lending and construction contractors wasn’t present in Uganda, how successful would the country be in increasing the share with access to roads?
4. If there were only a limited number of new roads, what strategy do you propose would increase agricultural productivity?
5. Without increasing agricultural productivity in the mostly agricultural country of Uganda and without counting on a game changing discovery of natural resources (especially considering per capita how much the revenue from resources would be diluted), how will your country develop?
@Kai Xue @Robert S. Stewart email@example.com
Sorry, like Godfree Roberts above, your facts are wrong and statements/questions are very misleading. The Chinese were already implementing a continent-wide, not-so-stealth foreign policy across Africa in the early 1970’s. That is why I brought up the ill-fated disaster of the Owen Falls II Dam on the Nile which was started then but had to be completely replaced at great cost to tax-paying Ugandans after the World Bank accepted the disgraceful materials that went into it. It was built and paid for twice by Ugandans.
In the 1970’s and 1980’s, the Chinese were arming Robert Mugabe with their AK47’s to destroy Zimbabwe’s plentiful, century-old fields of produce filled with self-sufficiency and export produce, using them to kill fifth generation White farmers. They built a wasteful football stadium in the middle of Harare and saddled the country with more massive debts. They did the same in Nigeria, building a stadium in Lagos and supplying hardcore military hardware to the Nigerian military: more debt. Who were the Nigerians fighting at the time? No one.
In the 1990’s, the DR Congo was invaded by the Chinese donors promising to replace the $50 billion Bechtel Master Plan (which I wrote in 1997) to rebuild the entire road/rail/port/airport infrastructure, extractive and agricultural sectors of the ruined country. Instead they sprayed tar onto a few mud roads, delivered 1940’s era telephone equipment and stole the country’s copper/cobalt.
Check out Dar es Salaam harbour in the 1970’s and 1980’s that was filled with Chinese ships dropping off cheap cargo in return for precious ivory culled off the Masai Mara and Serengeti Plains. The Chinese had bribed every Tanzanian Cabinet Minister with cars and trips to Beijing with copies of the Little Red Book, when few could read it. Canadians had to rip up the Tazara Railway to Lusaka and replace it with the proper gauge.
Your questions ignore the facts of what was going on in Africa – a full scale economic routing of the countries desperate for long-term development assistance. As I mentioned above, the cases of Sudan and Darfur whilst grabbing the oil near Port Sudan, the continuing slaughter of South Sudanese, the support of Nelson Mandela with arms, terrorist equipment to destroy South Africa’s giant economy decades ago through jungle routes from Tanzania and Mozambique.
There are volumes that will be written some day extolling the massacres that took place in a dozen countries when rebel groups were supplied with Chinese arms under Qadhafi’s influence to overthrow democratic governments that were still holding onto a semblance of infrastructure left behind by the Europeans/North Americans/Japanese/Taiwanese.
The arms trade started the deluge, followed by the delivery of fraudulent Master Plans, then poor quality goods and services. How many Chinese enclaves surrounded by barbed wire and gated compounds now dot the landscape in every capital city of Africa and all the work projects across the continent? Was this a friendly gesture of co-mingling with allies and solidarity with the people?
Only if you are under 30 years of age, wearing blinkers about the facts or dodging the truth of history, could you miss the many deeds unleashed on this poor continent by thousands of Chinese workers, many of whom were left behind in Africa to fend for themselves after their projects were finished. Some came from prisons and mental institutions in China.
As you can see by the numbers of assenting recommendations for many of my comments, it appears that most readers back the facts rather than spurious attempts at the fiction.
No, sadly, the continent has been knocked back another Century by this invasion of ill-conceived ‘development assistance’ which will leave a very damaging pall over the land and people. Africans must now take on a more insidious challenge in ridding their continent of leaders soaked in Chinese corruption who failed to deliver the promised Aid. Coined in the rhetoric of Chairman Mao, it has left an indelible mark that will be difficult to erase and repair.
European economies and corporations, especially the British, could restore some of what is lost and at the same time renew relations with Africa that would help to end these wounds and provide a mutual era of higher quality education, agriculture, infrastructure and extractive products to fuel the global economy. Anything would be better than what has gone on. Watch what comes out of the China/Africa Meetings in Beijing this week. Mrs. May, your country could do much better for both your sakes.
@Robert S. Stewart firstname.lastname@example.org I’m disappointed. You claimed to have done a lot of deals and lived in Africa for 50 years. I was hoping for a discussion with someone reasonable, well informed, commercial and practical. But by your responses it looks like you’re are a fanatic and very tedious to have a conversation with.
Robert S. Stewart email@example.com
@Kai Xue @Robert S. Stewart firstname.lastname@example.org
Terribly sorry to disappoint you but I believe in the truth, facts, reality, and not forgotten history and a revision of anything close to what really happened. I am not very good on fantasy that covers up the massive blight forced on Africa for the past 50 years by Chinese invaders who will leave a disgraceful legacy behind when they finally go.