By way of Africa, countries become superpowers. By way of Africa, countries gain influence, power, and resources. By way of Africa, exploiters can fuel their desires. And now this is the point where you should ask: “Why?” Well listen my children (not meant as a speaking down to you) and you shall hear of the midnight rise of the new Paul Revere. Instead of racing to sound the alarm of an invasion of British troops, this new Paul Revere races to beat the competition to the resources of the land and people. The new Paul Revere races to establish himself economically and politically in every middlesex town for his bank accounts to be up and full. This new Paul Revere yells to the people to get up and listen to what he can give them and what they can give him in return, he tells them not be get up and to arm against the invasion, but to sit down and join him in this great opportunity.
President Hu Jintao of China began his first official 12-day tour of Africa. Jintao began in Cameroon and signed a number of bi-lateral cooperation agreements. Cooperative? Possibly, it is important to note that trade with Africa has increased almost three-fold over the past few years as China searches for resources and markets to fuel its economy. This will be Jintao’s third visit to Africa since his term began in 2003. What many people do not know is that Africa supplies China with one-third of its imported oil. With this power of handing out loans and aid over the next three years, China has been pushed to use its influence on the African oil industry to pressure Sudan on the Darfur issue. Along with this potential issue, China is accussed of selling weapons to Zimbabwe adn flooding African markets with cheap goods that threaten the local producers.
Jintao’s tour takes him to Liberia, Sudan, Zambia, Namibia, Mozambique, and Seychelles. In Sudan, Jintao was given a <a href="http://english.aljazeera.net/NR/exeres/AF777D16-5D77-406D-8045-FCF8714F6BD2.htm
“>red-carpet welcome in the capital of Khartoum. Members of the UN Security Council and numerous activists are calling for Sudan to use this economic influence to push Sudan to end the fighting in Darfur. Sudan has refused demands for a UN peace-keeping force, which it calls ‘neo-colonial.’ Currently China is the number one foreign investor in Sudan and buys oer two-thirds of its oil exports. China is also Sudan’s top political ally with its veto power on the Security Council keeping Sudan from facing heavy burdens. When the Bush Administration named Darfur a genocide and placed heavy sanctions and many Security Council members calling on Sudan to stop the government sponsored killing, Sudan has had to depend on China to buy its exports and support its infrastructure. Surprisingly, ahead of Jintao’s visit, Chinese officials highlighted human rights in Sudan and called for the government to find a solution to Darfur. This act is very uncommon for China, who claims to stay out of internal affairs of other countries. However there are also accusations that along with buying oil in Sudan, China also sells weapons, which calls into question the true strength on China’s words. Are they just meant to appease the international community? Is there any real threat behind that statement? I think not.
During Jintao’s visit to Liberia thousands lined the streets and cheered in arguably what is now Africa’s strongest democracy. Liberia is looking for much needed investment in the war-scarred country. China re-started diplomatic ties in the ‘American stronghold in Africa’ during the Cold War. In Liberia Jintao signed about seven bi-lateral argeements in regards to iron ore, rubber, and timber. “The visit of the president is good for Liberia. China is a super power in its own way. If such a country’s president can visit this small country, it means a lot for us,” said Jimmie Smith, as he painted a stairwell at the Foreign Ministry. This may be true but many people including Africans warn poor African countries of the dangers of making bi-lateral agreements with China if the agreements do not protect their markets from cheap Chinese goods.
In a <a href="http://newsforums.bbc.co.uk/nol/thread.jspa?threadID=5398&&&edition=2&ttl=20070130191949
“>BBC opinion section people were asked to write what they thought China’s role in Africa will do. Many people expressed great hope for the involvement of China building infrastructure and also others noted the problem that China presents with their sale of weapons and their potential to ravage Africa. I hold a degree of both opinions. I am of the belief that China is now creating the last exploitation of Africa, sure they are building stadiums, schools, hospitals, and more, but what good is a hospital without investment in a trained staff, or knowledgable teachers in schools. There needs to be investment in people as much as infrastructure. The end game here is that China is after resources and a place to dump theor goods. This is simple and easy business, China is looking for a large market for its goods so they are more than willing to spend a little to win over their potential buyers – and it is working. It is also a great hope of mine that China’s actions will call up the West to start taking a more pro-active and positive step towards the African continent. The West needs to look beyond its history of exploitation and enslavement and neo-colonialism to be able to focus on helping the people in Africa, who, China may not be willing to invest. Whatever the case, by way of Africa, countries become superpowers – exploitation for resources, neo-colonial business practices. By way of Africa we all need to learn what is most important in this world. Capitalism will fall when our lust for profit out-runs our need for people to live to be able to help us make profit. Structures can be used to create good as easily as they create harm – we are all in this together.