Saturday, 24 September 2011
The first quarter of the 21st Century may be written up by future Historians as the years when the Peoples Republic of China (PRC) rose to greatness and flexed its muscles on a global if not an imperial scale. Future historians may also note that these were the years when the PRC's influence in sub Saharan Africa grew at an exponential rate. There has been an almost imperial acquisition of resources in the sub-Sahara with one of the most sweeping, bare-knuckled, and bare faced acquisition of resource to feed the PRC's population and it's economy.
The USA (and the West) have been struggling economically and politically with the consequences of the War on Terror and the consequences of the World wide Banking crisis. In barely a few years, the PRC has become one of the more aggressive investor-states in Africa. This admittedly commercial invasion has been (and is) probably the most important economic and political development in the sub-Sahara since the Cold War ended, the economic map of the world has been quietly redrawn.
There are more Chinese citizens resident in Nigeria than there were Brits during the height of their empire. Chinese state-owned and state-linked corporations and small entrepreneurs have roll led across the continent in an almost unstoppable wave. It has been estimated that potentially around a million Chinese citizens are at work in sub-Saharan Africa. The PRC has created collateral economies and population monuments across the continent as it searches for and seeks to develop and control minerals and food resources.
No other world power has come close to showing the same interest (or muscle for that matter) or sought to cosy up to Africa's leaders. Now this is no War on Terror, democracy (flawed or not) is no being encouraged, nurtured or spread by the PRC - this is solely about finding what the PRC needs to feed China (figuratively and literally). Aside for having a political impact and snaffling up increasingly scare resources there has been an impact within the Sub Saharan African nations.
This has been manifested as trade unions begin to fight against some pretty grim (PRC imposed) working conditions (obviously and somewhat ironically the People's Republic of China (a notional communist and pretty repressive state) is obviously no great lover of any real trade union's and any political opposition for that matter. And as indigenous local farmers (and their families) find themselves pushed off their land as governments swayed by the PRC's largess sells the land form underneath them. Pro and anti Chinese candidates fight elections in those Sub Saharan states where meaningful elections take place that is, and you can guess which ones get the benefits of PRC funding.