By ANANT MISHRA [Former Youth Representative to United Nations] New Delhi: The People’s Republic of China has always gained too much attention in the media because of its unique choice of policies, be it, one child policy or their ignorance towards human rights, their policies on censorship or their unconditional support to Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. However their foreign policy is aimed principally on “harmony and peace in the world”, however their goal on “preserving once independence, sovereignty and territorial dominance,” hinders the former. My objective through this column is to question their so called “Five Principles of Peaceful Understanding” which acts as pillars in claiming their quest of becoming a super power.
Growing Chinese influence in Africa The two nations, PRC and Africa had a mutual relationship back from the Cold War days when they started their diplomatic relations under excessive pressure from the then USSR. The PRC also backed up the liberation movement in Zimbabwe. In return for PRC’s support, Africa voted for Taiwan’s replacement to PRC as a permanent member in UNSC of 1971. The PRC provided supplies, arms and ammunitions followed by political support to dictators of Sudan and Zimbabwe. In exchange to oil, they provided advanced weaponry systems and were also responsible for the genocide in Darfur. They were also involved in diplomatic talks between Sudan and South Sudan. “Neoliberal development can be regarded as neo-colonial because through the imposition of certain political and economic values they are able to have physical and institutional control over development projects in the South” - Deola Sagoe in 2012With the growing rate of Chinese Economy demands for large natural resources in form of raw materials are at its peak. Africa, a continent with huge natural resources fulfils its need. As a matter of fact PRC is the largest trade partner of Africa. Almost 46 nations in the African Continent have made strong relations with China in form of trade and foreign policy. The PRC is the second largest Consumer of Oil, US being the first, thus making oil a major component of trade. African nations such as Angola, the Republic of Congo, Equatorial Guinea, and Sudan are biggest oil suppliers to China.
It is surprising to note that many of these African nations share good relations with China that too nations with oil in surplus. On the contrary they have poor relations with the west. Thus, these so selfless and generous acts have now been questioned by the international communities. They have also raised questions on future sustainability of Africa. Some experts question their policies; others consider these acts as a camouflage for their continuing hidden forms of colonialism and neo-colonialism. However their dominance in Africa will have serious, cultural social and political repercussions. Chinese involvement in Africa: More than just Goodwill “China’s neo-colonial fostering of development contributes to and reinforces inequalities between African countries. China unevenly distributes its foreign aid between states in Africa. It has been suggested that Chinese foreign aid has been invested in countries which have sectors that need it the least, suggesting that it follows similar patterns to existing aid flows from the North into Africa.” - Deola Sagoe in 2012 These so called selfless acts are being questioned by many stakeholders on Chinese involvement in the African continent, as goodwill is just to create propaganda to hide the actual fact of self gain. However there have been some reports that say otherwise. Some Chinese firms have been providing infrastructural development by building dams, roads, hospitals and schools in Africa. They have also involved themselves in training programs such as trainings of telecommunication workers in Angola. China is also one of the key financiers to the South – South Cooperation set up by the UN to bring nations together in the Southern hemisphere. The example of China – Africa business summit is in front of us. The UNDP is a meagre broker linking two nations to work on socio economic development. The Africa China poverty reduction and development conference is another example.Chinese “not to interfere” policy Trade relations with PRC are based solely on their policy that “it will trade with any and every nation that possesses the resource required by them irrespective of their international standing” as their foreign policy requires more need for natural resource. This policy is often termed as non interference. This has caused corruption, human rights violations, and environmental abuses in Africa as they are unable to threat PRC and severe the trade relations with this strong nation. Looking at the long run this will severely affect the development and progress. Opposing the model, many western counter parts not only assist in stabilizing economy by trading but also help in governance. One such example is the control of human rights violations by African National Party. Experts term this as “conditional aid”. However Chinese foreign policy creates hindrance, not only through non interference means but also by hampering mutual respect and mutually beneficial trade. Although many international stakeholders argue that western designed model is more suitable for African development. Others consider reviving the same policy of PRC in more humanitarian developed means rather than self centred trade. The issue of dependency Many experts believe that the certain amount of trade, if continued on a long run will make the African nations dependent. This dependency then makes the host nation vulnerable especially in areas with skill development and education. This becomes clear when you compare the number of houses, hospitals built every year with the number of oil barrels shipped. The issue of Sustainable development The PRC trades raw and other materials with African nations and supplies them with manufactured materials. This creates an issue of establishment and also creates a sense of demotivation for all the entrepreneurs in the region. The heavy presence of oil in the region creates hindrance in other key factors, but if traded with good and mutually beneficial stakeholders and using their resources, the situation will be better than ever. If this trade continues for a few years then the so called “bread basket” will suffer with “Dutch Disease”, as excessive trade of oil will result in rise of currency, and soon companies will lose its competitiveness. We should not forget that there are numerous youths in Africa waiting for employment opportunities. The PRC has established firms which give minimum employment opportunities to the youth, as they have brought their manpower with them. Conflict interference Civil wars in nations like Sierra Leone, Nigeria and Angola have been a clear example on how blood diamonds and oil are used in Africa. Thus they are known as conflict commodities. They are smuggled from conflict zones and sold in black market to fund insurgencies in African nations. The National Union for the total independence of Angola sold conflict diamonds in black market to fund insurgency in Angola during the civil war of 1975. The UNSC shocked by the movement of this national political party imposed strong sanctions. Another such example is the Liberian civil war, in which the President was accused of supplying weapons and trainings to the Revolutionary United Front. Cases like these led to the formation of Kimberly process. It is a direct result of Fowler Report. The Kimberly Process is a framework designed specifically to fight illicit trade of these resources which causes civil wars. The framework allows member nations to trade conflict commodities with only those nations that are found eligible by KRCS. Problems with respect to Conflict Commodities • It is important to understand that the diamonds mined in Zimbabwe do not come under the KPCS. Hence this negligence by KPCS will result in serious outcomes in political level. The political will of many leaders and their desperation as led to corruption, oppression and failure in governance. The Chinese government on this situation performed a veto (negative vote) in the United Nations Security Council as a result the UNSC couldn’t enforce a sanction on Zimbabwe for the illicit trade of diamonds mined from the Marange field. • Any commodity which can be sealed, packed and transferred illegally among national and international boundaries is termed as conflict commodities. For example in the Civil war of Congo gold was used to fund insurgency as it was difficult to trace. Not just gold, oil and timber were used at times to instigate civil war. During the attack on the World Trade Centre in New York, Al Qaeda was suspected to have used gemstone tanzanite to fund their activities.