[Marxism] The Chinese are Coming - Quietly

Walter Lippmann walterlx at earthlink.net
Thu Feb 1 09:16:58 MST 2007

On this list, the precise definition of the class character of
the Chinese state has been debated frequently. What really is
not debatable is the fact that, capitalist or otherwise, China
today constitutes a counter-pole on the international plane to
Washington's unilateralist posture. For the peoples of most of
the world, that's not a bad thing. (The following articles are
from a Russian website. Everyone on Marxial would probably 
agree that Russia today is a capitalist country.)

Really, one would think that the Chinese government has bigger
fish to fry than trying to disrupt the Marxist Internet Archive
particularly since according to their self-description, they're 
still Marxists and Communists. China today is a world power of
large and steadily-expanding influence. Economically, militarily
and politically. China today, though still underdeveloped in a
lot of ways, one of the few forces which Washington is obliged
to speak softly toward when seeking that country's cooperation
on more or less any project. Chinese foot-dragging, as Russian,
has held Washington's ambitions back on the Korean peninsula as
well as in relation to Iran. Naturally this causes resentment 
in Washington, but since the United States is so addicted to 
Chinese commodities, and so indebted to China for maintaining
U.S. financial stability, it seems there's not much Washington
can do to pressure them. And so, China shakes the world. Again.

Walter Lippmann
Los Angeles, California

The Chinese are Coming - Quietly


// The Stealthy Approach of the World's Next Geopolitical Superpower

Every great world power finds its place and makes it way in the world
after its own fashion. The phrase "the Russians are coming" sounds
completely different from "the Americans are coming." And the cry of
"the Chinese are coming" is something else yet again. It's impossible
to confuse the Chinese with anyone else when it comes to expansion.

The Chinese expansion is quiet, unobtrusive, creeping. The world will
have no idea how it woke up one morning to find itself enmeshed in a
transparent but unbreakable net - one that says "Made in China," of
course. The most obvious examples of this process at work is how
Chinese consumer goods took over America without firing a single shot
and how the yeasty rise of China's economy has taken root in the
slumbering eastern regions of Russia. Now the time has come for the
Middle Kingdom, the master of order, to turn its eye to Africa, that
huge and singularly masterless continent, the exploitation of which
the United States, the European Union, and Russia have all failed to
get around to.

While Moscow and Washington squabble over spheres of influence in the
Near East and in the post-Soviet region, where control over energy
resources and energy flows are inextricably bound up together with
risks and expenses that cannot be dismissed as minor, that clever
Chinese monkey, which has traditionally preferred to observe the two
grappling tigers from a lofty perch in the mountains, is gaining
access to coveted raw goods in another part of the world and under
different circumstances - i.e., without conflict, that undesirable
but also unavoidable byproduct of hydrocarbons and metals in other
regions of the world. There's no need to butt heads with anyone, and
no need to prepare an asymmetric response. Quietly - that's how the
Chinese are coming.

Even while they themselves do not pay the requisite amount of
attention to Africa, the other world powers have also cleared the way
for China to realize its plans. Last year's visit by President
Vladimir Putin to South Africa, which was the first visit by a
Russian head of state to the Black Continent since the collapse of
the Soviet Union, didn't cut it. For Moscow, Africa is still
something abstract and far away. We still haven't found the answer to
the question that arose at the beginning of the 1990s, after the
disappearance of the Soviet sphere of influence: what is to be done
with Africa? President Bush has also visited Africa only once, in
2003, and even a passing glance at Washington's foreign policy
doctrine shows that Africa doesn't even rate a mention among
America's priorities. In essence, it has fallen to Beijing to simply
pick up the gold brick of Africa from the ground.

However, it would an impermissible oversimplification to say that the
Chinese are headed to Africa solely for the resources that are so
vital for China's economy. That is nothing but the simplest
explanation, the one that lies on the surface of things. In reality,
the stakes in this game are much higher and have nothing to do with
exploiting Africa's natural treasures. The possibility that Chinese
peacekeepers will be sent to the region with an international mandate
means just as much as economic contracts and projects. Once China has
achieved that, it will have received a kind of international
superpower certificate, one that will confer upon the country not
only economic but also geopolitical leadership. And it will all be
done without any pomp and circumstance - meaning that neither
President Bush nor President Putin will notice until it has already

Sergey Strokan


January 31, 2007

The Chinese People's Republic of Africa


// Will Chinese Peacekeepers Soon Embark on a Conquest of the Black

Yesterday Chinese leader Hu Jintao set off on an epic tour of Africa,
during which he will visit eight African countries in twelve days. It
is expected that, in addition to signing trade agreements, Mr. Hu
will lobby for the deployment of Chinese peacekeepers on the
continent, particularly in war-torn Darfur, where Chinese state-owned
oil monopolies have multibillion-dollar contracts. Unfortunately for
the United States, the European Union, and Russia, Beijing's open
foray into Africa has the potential to seriously jeopardize their
future in the region. Beijing's Overtures

Hu Jintao's Africa tour will be the Chinese head of state's most
extensive visit to the continent since he came to power in 2003. Mr.
Hu visited Africa on short trips to two countries each time in
February 2004 and April of last year, but this time he is leaving
nothing off the itinerary: in twelve days, the Chinese premier will
visit Cameroon, Liberia, Sudan, Zambia, Namibia, South Africa,
Mozambique, and the Seychelles. His visit comes on the heels of the
"China - Africa" forum that took place in grand style in November
2006, when Beijing hosted delegations from 48 of the 53 countries in
Africa, including 35 presidents. The list of invitees even included a
few of the continent's more odious leaders, such as Zimbabwean
President Robert Mugabe and Sudan's Omar al-Bashir, both of whom have
reputations in the West as bloody dictators. Undaunted, Beijing
trotted out a delegation of the Party's top leadership, with Hu
Jintao at its head, for a pompous reception ceremony on Tiananmen
Square. In addition, Mr. Hu has promised to furnish Africa with $5
billion in loans and credits by 2009, and Chinese state-owned
companies have signed 16 contracts with African heads of state to the
tune of $1.9 billion.

The main topic at the forum in Beijing was the growing Chinese
economy's increasing interest in Africa's rich natural resources,
particularly its oil. China began to take an active interest in
Africa in the 1990s, but it was not until Hu Jintao assumed the
premiership that relations with Africa became one of the tacit
priorities of Chinese foreign policy. At the present moment,
one-third of the oil China consumes (around 800,000 barrels a day) is
imported from Africa. Since 2000 the volume of trade between China
and Africa has grown fivefold and now exceeds $55 billion, of which
40% was in the last year alone.

Africa has become a major source of raw materials and an important
trade outlet for Chinese products, and in return China has kept the
region generously supplied with credits and investment: by the end of
2006, the Chinese had invested almost $8 billion in Africa. On
Monday, the Chinese Trade Ministry announced that it will be
extending $3 million in credits to African countries in the next
three years. Most of that money will be earmarked for building
electrical power plants and creating joint ventures, from which
Beijing anticipates labor contracts for Chinese firms. The majority
of these contracts are expected to be signed during Hu Jintao's
current visit to the region.

African Friction

At first glance, Mr. Hu's Africa jaunt appears to be fairly
capriciously designed, but the route was actually carefully planned.
First of all, the Chinese leader must fulfill his diplomatic
obligations by visiting smaller countries as well as larger ones,
showing that China is interested in developing relations not just
with a handful of "key" countries, but with the entire continent. In
addition, with the exception of the Seychelles, the countries that
Mr. Hu has included in his trip those that are proving most
problematic for Chinese business. In order to reach his vacation in
the Seychelles, the Chinese premier will have a sweat through the
rest of the continent first.

For example, tough negotiations about timber exports lie ahead in
Liberia, Cameroon, Mozambique, and Namibia. Almost all of China's
furniture producers get raw materials from these four countries, but
the local populations and their leaders are unhappy about the
harvesting of their resources. Even tougher talks await in Zambia,
from which China imports almost 40% of its copper and where
anti-Chinese feelings are running so high that the question of
whether to bar Chinese firms altogether was a hot topic in the
country's presidential elections last September. In the elections,
pro-Beijing President Levi Mwanawasa just barely managed to repulse a
challenge from opposition leader Michael Sata, whose campaign was
built around criticism of Beijing's recent expansionist economic
tendencies. In addition, Zambian copper mines owned by the Chinese
are wracked by riots almost every week. The most difficult
negotiations for Mr. Hu, however, will be in South Africa, whose
president, Thabo Mbeki, roundly criticized Beijing last December,
noting bitterly, "China can become a superpower, but all we can be is
a supplier of raw materials." Among other examples, in recent years
Chinese products have flooded the country's textiles market, pushing
out South African manufacturers.

China's financial might will go a long way towards resolving these
and other issues. Before Mr. Hu's departure, Beijing unveiled plans
to create five special economic zones in Africa along the lines of
the Chinese model, according to which any Chinese company that
invests in these zones will receive credits and tax breaks from the
Chinese government. Most likely, the right to host these profitable
zones will go to those countries whose governments have expressed
most dissatisfaction with China, particularly South Africa. For
countries that don't make the cut, however, China has another
tempting treat to offer: it has promised to write off a large part of
the debt of 33 African nations in 2007, an amnesty that will
presumably be enough to ensure friendly relations towards Chinese

The Darfur Culmination

By far the most important part of the trip will be the Chinese
leader's visit to Sudan, where he will arrive on Friday. "This visit
will be the culmination of our relations with a friendly China," said
Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir on Sunday. This leg of the trip has
also attracted significant attention from the international
community, since many Western leaders are appalled at the very idea
of cultivating a relationship with the regime that has been carrying
on a campaign of ethnic cleansing against the local population in the
oil-rich Darfur region. On the other hand, many hope that Beijing
will succeed in convincing Khartoum to allow UN peacekeepers into

Hu Jintao also appears to have come up with a original solution to
the problem of Darfur. The Chinese deputy foreign affairs minister,
who has a reputation as an excellent negotiator on delicate matters,
visited Khartoum not long before Mr. Hu set off on his visit to
Africa. Upon returning to Beijing, he confidently stated that "the
Chairman's visit will undoubtedly bring peace and stability to
Darfur." "China and Sudan are currently working on together on many
questions, including military cooperation, and we have nothing to
hide," he added pointedly.

Many experts believe that Hu Jintao will suggest to Khartoum that it
permit a contingent of primarily Chinese UN peacekeepers to be
deployed in Darfur. Around 150 Chinese military engineers are already
in Sudan, but Beijing could still send a full detachment of troops to
the country. Omar al-Bashir is not likely to object too strongly,
since most of the petrodollars flowing into Khartoum come from
multibillion-dollar contracts with the Chinese state-run oil
companies CNPC and Sinopec. The moment is also politically ripe for
such a proposal: on Monday, it was announced that the Darfur problem
will cost Sudan the chairmanship of the African Union in 2007.
Accepting a proposal from the Chinese concerning peacekeepers in the
region would give Mr. al-Bashir an opportunity to portray himself in
a better light.

If Beijing succeeds in sweet-talking Mr. al-Bashir, the deployment of
Chinese peacekeepers to Darfur could be the first step in a Chinese
military expansion throughout Africa. The continent currently hosts
around 3,000 Chinese troops, but there are no obstacles to increasing
that number. There is also no shortage of hot spots in places that
are potentially of interest to Beijing. The first candidate for
Chinese intervention could be the oil-rich state of Rivers in
southern Nigeria, where last week separatists took nine Chinese oil
workers hostage. CNPC and Sinopec are actively exploiting the Niger
Delta with significant assistance from Abuja, which last September
did the Chinese a favor by closing the Nigeria's oil market to almost
all other international companies. In fact, Chinese peacekeepers
could have a role to play in all of the African countries in which
China is pursuing large-scale economic projects. If that turns out to
be the case, the US, EU, and Russia can kiss their interests in
Africa goodbye for awhile, if not forever.

Alexander Gabuyev

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