A cursory examination of Communist China’s calculated territorial imperialism in the South China Sea helps clarify Beijing’s calculated economic, political, and criminal imperialism in sub-Saharan Africa.
In 2016, the international tribunal in The Hague ruled that China had seized islets and “marine features” in the South China Sea belonging to the Philippines. He had also plundered the Philippine fish resources.
The decision invoked the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, a treaty signed by China. Yet Beijing ignored the verdict. Chinese diplomats argue that in Southeast Asia, China is reclaiming “stolen” territory.
This defense is rubbish – propaganda to cover up a heinous case of aggression by a great imperial power (China) at the expense of a weak neighbor.
China’s “lost land” scam cannot mask or excuse its imperialism in vulnerable sub-Saharan Africa.
During the infamous Scramble for Africa (1881-1914), European empires took control of approximately 90% of Africa. The rushing imperialists were looking for colonies. Colonies gave imperial powers natural resources, markets for goods (economic dominance), and often strategic military bases.
China’s calculating communist-imperialists dominate 21st century empire building in sub-Saharan Africa.
Nearly two decades ago, visionary human rights groups, development aid advocates and savvy accountants began warning countries in sub-Saharan Africa that China’s elaborate promises of direct economic investments and generous loans were anything but altruistic. China’s offers of technical assistance to build much-needed infrastructure were suspect. Aid advisers pointed out that China generally insists on using Chinese state-owned construction companies and Chinese workers, which prevents local workers from learning modern construction skills.
Human rights groups insist that corrupt African politicians are easy targets for political manipulation and corruption by rich countries and corporations. Countries rich in minerals and with corrupt governments, such as the Democratic Republic of Congo (Congo) and Zambia, are particularly vulnerable.
Visionary critics got it right: China’s strategic goal was not development, but guaranteed access to natural resources to supply its industrial economy, especially with the strategic minerals found in the Congo like cobalt and coltan ( refined tantalum).
The manufacture of cell phones and computers requires coltan. The production of rechargeable batteries requires cobalt. China manufactures many electric vehicles (EVs), but one has particular political significance: “city-to-city” mini-EVs. Domestic demand is huge. The deal the Chinese Communist Party makes with the Chinese is that they get modern gifts if they don’t challenge the CCP’s control.
It takes about 22 pounds of cobalt to make an electric car battery. Congolese minerals drive the Chinese economy and help preserve the power of the CCP.
Congo’s so-called “China Deal” is a detailed and hideous example of the selfish and ultimately malevolent imperialism of the CCP dictatorship in Africa.
In 2008, the then Congolese government, led by the authoritarian and corrupt Joseph Kabila, signed an agreement with two Chinese state-owned companies. The companies were supposed to build roads, hospitals and other infrastructure in exchange for a 68% stake in a huge Congolese copper and cobalt company. Published estimates of the deal’s value ranged from $6.8 billion to $10 billion.
Similar development resource agreements in the Congo followed. One concerned the construction of electrical distribution infrastructure.
In 2019, President Félix Tshisekedi replaced Kabila. In 2020, Congolese authorities estimated that Chinese companies controlled around 70% of Congo’s mineral deposits and mining industry.
Reformers have called on the government to review Kabila’s mining deals. In May 2021, Tshisekedi accepted. He then called the deals unfair, saying investigators had found evidence.
They were more than unjust, they were corrupt. In late 2021, a leaked report claimed that a China Deal side contract was used to distribute $55 million to senior Kabila government officials. According to a news report, the kickback plot used shell companies that gave the impression that the operation was legitimate. Chinese state-owned enterprises are under the control of the CCP. This involves Beijing.
Late last year, we learned that in 2017 the Kabila government had agreed to secretly change the deal with China. The amendment accelerated payments to Chinese financiers and slowed the pace of infrastructure investment. In other words, communist China got money before doing the necessary constructions in Congo.
The leaked 2021 report alleged that China had invested less than $1 billion in infrastructure projects, about half of what should have been invested by 2021.
The Congolese people are deceived, and one of the cheaters is China.
Imperialism with Chinese characteristics? Yes.
Austin Bay is a syndicated columnist and author.