Chinese chequers – Conor Foley

Conor Foley writes an opinion piece about China’s role in Africa for the Guardian’s website:

But the humbling suffered by American forces will undoubtedly make the US less willing to undertake unilateral military interventions elsewhere, while the rising economic power of China is now visibly challenging US pre-eminence.

Nowhere is this more apparent than in Africa where Chinese diplomatic and economic relations have been growing exponentially over the last few years. Sino-African trade grew by 700% during the 1990s and President Hu’s recent visit to eight African countries is a sign of China’s growing political engagement with the continent.

…Many do not seem to have fully grasped the consequences of this engagement. Tony Blair’s recently reported threatto bomb the Sudanese air force, as a means of resolving the crisis in Darfur, shows that imperialist delusions are alive and well in certain quarters. Such a policy would have virtually no chance of being approved by the UN security council, where China wields a veto, and threats of unilateral military action sound increasingly like empty bluster given the west’s over-stretch in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Calmer voices are pointing to the constructive role that China could play in helping to press the two sides towards a negotiated end to the conflict and what is true for Darfur could also be true for other parts of Africa as well. Zhou Yuxiao, charg√© d’affaires at the Chinese embassy in South Africa, recently commented: “ is a sovereign country and I’m sorry that we do not develop relations according to US or UK or any other country’s instruction.” However, China has as much of an interest as the rest of the world in promoting stability, if only because this creates an easier climate in which to do business. [Full text]

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