Communist Chinese Imperialists Steal Sub-Saharan Africa

January 27, 2022 Updated: January 30, 2022

Commentary

A quick review 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 Hague’s international tribunal ruled that China had seized islets and “sea features” in the South China Sea belonging to the Philippines. It had also plundered Filipino fishing resources.

The ruling invoked the U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea, a treaty China had signed. Yet Beijing ignored the verdict. Chinese diplomats contend that in Southeast Asia, China is recovering “stolen” territory.

That defense is rubbish—propaganda to blur a wicked case of aggression by an imperial great power (China) at the expense of a weak neighbor.

China’s “lost land” scam can’t mask or excuse its imperialism in vulnerable sub-Saharan Africa.

During the infamous Scramble for Africa (1881–1914), European empires seized control of roughly 90 percent of Africa. Scrambling imperialists sought colonies. Colonies gave the imperial powers natural resources, markets for goods (economic dominance), and often strategic military bases.

China’s calculating communist-imperialists have dominated 21st-century empire-building in sub-Saharan Africa.

Almost two decades ago, prescient human rights groups, developmental aid advocates, and savvy accountants began warning sub-Saharan African nations that China’s elaborate promises of direct economic investment and generous loan arrangements were anything but altruistic. China’s offers of technical assistance to build much-needed infrastructure were suspect. Aid advisers pointed out that China typically insisted on using state-owned Chinese construction companies and Chinese workers, which denied local workers opportunities to acquire modern construction skills.

Human rights groups insistently bewail the fact that corrupt African politicians are easy targets for political manipulation and bribery by wealthy countries and corporations. Mineral-rich countries with corrupt governments, such as the Democratic Republic of Congo (Congo) and Zambia, are particularly vulnerable.

The prescient critics got this right: China’s strategic goal wasn’t development, but guaranteed access to natural resources to supply its industrial economy, especially with strategic minerals found in Congo such as cobalt and coltan (refined tantalum).

Manufacturing mobile phones and computers requires coltan. Producing rechargeable batteries requires cobalt. China makes many electric vehicles (EVs), but one has special political importance: “city-town” mini-EVs. Domestic demand is huge. The deal the Chinese Communist Party has made with the Chinese people is that they get modern goodies if they don’t challenge CCP control.

It takes roughly 22 pounds of cobalt to make an electric car battery. Congolese minerals make China’s economy whir and help preserve CCP power.

Congo’s so-called China Deal is a detailed and hideous example of the CCP dictatorship’s self-serving and ultimately malevolent imperialism in Africa.

In 2008, Congo’s then-government, led by the authoritarian and corrupt Joseph Kabila, signed a deal with two state-owned Chinese firms. The companies were supposed to build roads, hospitals, and other infrastructure in exchange for a 68 percent stake in a huge Congolese copper and cobalt venture. Published estimates of the deal’s value ran from $6.8 to $10 billion.

Similar Congo resources-for-development deals followed. One involved building electrical distribution infrastructure.

In 2019, President Felix Tshisekedi replaced Kabila. In 2020, Congolese officials estimated that Chinese companies controlled about 70 percent of Congo’s mineral deposits and mining-related industries.

Reformers demanded the government review Kabila’s mining deals. In May 2021, Tshisekedi agreed. He later called the deals unfair, indicating investigators had found evidence.

They were more than unfair: They were corrupt. In late 2021, a leaked report claimed that a subsidiary China Deal contract was used to distribute $55 million to senior members of Kabila’s government. According to a media report, the bribe plot used shell companies that made the operation appear legitimate. State-owned Chinese companies are in thrall to the CCP. That implicates Beijing.

Late in 2021, we learned that in 2017 the Kabila government agreed to secretly amend the China Deal. The amendment accelerated payments to Chinese financiers and slowed the pace of infrastructure investment. In other words, communist China got money before doing the required construction in Congo.

The leaked 2021 report alleged that China has invested less than 1 billion dollars in infrastructure projects, about half of what should have been invested by 2021.

The people of Congo are being cheated, and one of the cheats is China.

Imperialism with Chinese characteristics? Yes.

Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.

Austin Bay
Austin Bay is a colonel (ret.) in the U.S. Army Reserve, author, syndicated columnist, and teacher of strategy and strategic theory at the University of Texas–Austin. His latest book is “Cocktails from Hell: Five Wars Shaping the 21st Century.”