Thursday, February 19, 2009

Deciphering the Sino-African saga

A interesting perspective on China's geopolitical interests in the Southern Hemisphere emerged from Accra, Ghana today.

The author, Bright B. Simons is an executive at
IMANI-Ghana, a think-tank voted the sixth-most influential in Africa this year by Foreign Policy Magazine. I've copy and pasted a few experts below in order to summarize the major premise of the article and get you interested.

Remember the opinions and views expressed below do not reflect those of this site or myself (the author/ webmaster). None the less, they are legitimate views and overall, the analysis of the geopolitics at play is one of the best I've read in months and is definitely worth your time.


In that scheme of things, one could have said that Hu's visit to Africa was part of the ongoing effort to diversify China's export markets away from their fatal dependence on Western profligates. China's trade with Africa has expanded 1,000% this decade to an astounding US$100 billion plus, a significant proportion of which is made up of Africa-bound Chinese consumables.


Thus while Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao is being kept busy at home shoring up confidence in the southern export machine through staged visits to the shrinking enclaves of roaring capitalist success on the country's southern coast.

Vice President Xi Jinping has been neck-deep in diplomatic intrigue in Mexico, Venezuela, Brazil, Colombia and Jamaica.

Vice Premier Hui Liangyu has been asked to ride on China's recent membership into the Inter-American Development Bank (IABD) to worm his way into the hearts of Ecuadorian, Argentinean, Barbadian and Bahamian opinion leaders with assurances of more funds to follow on the $350 million that sealed China's membership in the IABD.

Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping makes a speech at a business seminar in Caracas, Venezuela,
Feb. 17, 2009. Xi arrived in Caracas Tuesday for an official visit to Venezuela. (Xinhua/Ma Zhancheng)


But look closely and another vortex pops out of the design: the visit to the four African countries is actually one plank in what seems to be a multi-prong diplomatic offensive aimed at consolidating some kind of Southern Hemisphere solidarity in anticipation of an era of mercantilist alliances arrayed to the effect of greater multilateralism and the breaking of Euro-American economic hegemony.


Having painted this elegant portrait of the African visits as embedded in an overarching Chinese framework of geostrategic positioning, encompassing Africa, the Middle East and Latin America, gleeful observers are naturally inclined to dismiss the more mundane spin put on the issue by Chinese diplomats.


Hu's choice of country visits, based on such logic, could thus only have been motivated by the desire to visit as many African countries as possible, and to engage in a powerful, if also political capital intensive, "geo-symbolism" that will manifest its usefulness should the growing outcry of a new world economic order lead to a greater multilateralism and its attendant universal international suffrage.


Click here if you would like to access Simons article from the Asia Times Online