In mid-May, China invested $35 million in Kenya to build a new foreign ministry building. It’s the latest in a series of investments and grants given by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) to African countries, which allows the regime to expand its political and economic influence in the continent.
China’s investment offers, mainly through its Belt and Road Initiatives (BRI), have been widely criticized for setting up debt traps for recipient countries, along with accusations of espionage and infiltration. The West has now started to take counter measures.
Southern China Morning Post noted on May 23 that the CCP has been focusing on funding and building government buildings for African countries, which has aroused suspicion from the international community.
Currently, the $80 million new headquarters for the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which is funded by China, is under construction in the south of Addis Ababa in Ethiopia. Despite the U.S. government’s warning in February 2020 that a China-funded and constructed CDC will be used by the regime to steal “African genetic data,” construction started in December 2020.
According to The Heritage Foundation, China was involved in the building of more than 186 government buildings across 40 of 54 African countries. Even the African Union (AU) headquarters, located in Ethiopia, was fully financed and built by China.
In 2018, French newspaper Le Monde first revealed that AU technicians discovered that between 2012 and 2017, the Chinese-built African Union headquarters had been transmitting AU’s confidential data to Shanghai daily through the building’s IT network using servers provided by Chinese company Huawei.
Despite that, in 2019, AU signed deals with Huawei to expand the use of its technology and equipment in building 5G networks, artificial intelligence and cloud computing, and others.
China has developed 70 percent of Africa’s 4G networks, and even built sensitive intra-governmental communications networks for 14 African countries.
In recent years, China’s communist regime has lent billions of dollars to African states while building roads, railways, ports, power stations, internet networks, government buildings in an effort to bring the continent under its influence, according to UK media reports. The regime has also been building military bases in Africa, such as in Djibouti.
The Chinese loans are mostly offered through BRI, which is Chinese leader Xi Jinping’s grand foreign policy project that he launched in 2013. It aims to extend the CCP’s economic and political influence to countries in Asia, Europe, and Africa by recreating ancient China’s silk road and maritime silk road for trading in the 21st century. The BRI invests Chinese capital in the construction of various high-cost infrastructure projects in more than 60 participating countries.
At least 28 African countries have signed a BRI agreement with China, according to Chinese state-run media Xinhua.
Recently, the United States and its allies have started to take measures to counter China’s expansion in Africa. In a Group of Seven (G7) meeting of foreign ministers in early May, Western countries highlighted the CCP’s ambitions and security threats for the nations of Africa and Latin America, and suggested that the West extend partnerships to the countries with “concrete offers of cooperation.”
On May 22, a group of telecommunications companies funded by a U.S. foreign-aid agency and led by the U.K.’s Vodafone Group won the contract to build 5G network for Ethiopia, beating Chinese state-owned companies Huawei Technologies Co. and ZTE Corp.