USA WARNS AFRICAN LEADERS OF CREEPING CHINESE COLONIALISM

On June 22, 2011, UPI focused on China, armed with $3 trillion in foreign reserves, stepping up its scramble for Africa’s mineral riches, including oil, copper and gold, to fuel its ever-expanding economy.

This has alarmed the United States, with U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton warning African leaders earlier this month in Lusaka, capital of copper-rich Zambia, of the perils of creeping “new colonialism.”:

We don’t want to see a new colonialism in Africa.

Clinton’s unease about China’s massive expansion into Africa in recent years, and its “no strings” approach, is also causing unease in Europe, from whence Africa’s former colonial masters came.

In a world in which finite resources are dwindling and likely to be the casus belli of future conflicts, China’s widening engagement with Africa is increasingly seen as one of the main dynamics shaping the continent.

Washington is having to safeguard U.S. interests in Africa, which are increasingly threatened by the bullish BRIC group — Brazil, Russia, India and China.

Trade between China and Africa grew from $20 billion in 2001 to more than $120 billion in 2009.

Direct Chinese investment in Africa has soared from under $500 million in 2003 to more than $9 billion in 2009.

Over the last decade, the Chinese, flush with concessional financing channeled through state enterprises and institutions, have plowed billions of dollars into building roads, bridges, railroads, airports, factories, telecommunications networks and power plants across Africa.

Financial Times of London recently observed:

The extremely favorable loan terms that Chinese state banks can offer state companies to help them with their offshore acquisitions have become a sore point for many of the international companies trying to compete for those deals.

State bank financing flows especially to companies — particularly state-owned ‘national champions’ — that are buying overseas companies in the high-tech, energy, mining and environmental protection sectors.

According to the Financial Times, 89 percent of China’s imports from sub-Saharan Africa in 2010 were oil, minerals and other raw materials. The value of these exports has grown at an astonishing pace over the last decade, from $4.2 billion in 2000 to $38 billion in 2009.

Angola and Sudan provide much of the African oil that flows to China. In both countries, state-owned Chinese companies have played a key role in developing their energy sectors since the 1990s.

South Africa, one of Africa’s biggest economies, exports ores and precious metals to China, the world’s biggest importer of commodities like copper and iron ore.

In May, a Chinese consortium, discreetly owned by the Beijing government, became a majority shareholder in Gold One, an Australian miner whose main asset is in South Africa.

China’s latest interest is African coal. Wuhan Iron and Steel is investing heavily in Mozambique’s Tete fields.

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