[Marxism] Fwd: Anthropologist Jane Goodall: China is pillaging Africa like an old colonial power
pbond at mail.ngo.za
Tue Feb 23 01:34:13 MST 2016
A dubious source, she is, what with her promotion of carbon trading as a
way to solve climate change and microfinance to promote 'development.'
But on this matter of China's neo-colonial power over Africa, she's
absolutely correct. More details:
The pro-neoliberal stance that Beijing takes when manipulating South
Africa (not merely when Pretoria denies the Dalai Lama a visa to attend
Archbishop Tutu's 80th birthday because Beijing says so) was celebrated
by the most notorious business hack a few days ago, in his appreciation
of economic "steady ship" intervention:
Chinese closely watch SA
By Peter Bruce
February 16, 2016
ONE of the keenest followers of the Jacob Zuma U-turn on Nkandla and the
state of the nation address would have been a former Chinese ambassador
to South Africa, Zhong Jianhua, now the special representative on
African affairs of the Chinese government.
The Chinese create a special representative for stuff that really
matters to them as they grow their power in the world.
There’s a special representative for the Middle East, one for climate
change, one for Myanmar. They are super-ambassadors, perhaps none more
so than Zhong.
Though he nominally reports to Foreign Minister Wang Yi, he is close to
President Xi Jinping. The two were at school together and their fathers
were both generals under Chairman Mao.
Xi has singled out Africa as a special project for his two terms as
leader. Zhong is his pointman.
He is superbly prepared for the job, with a masters degree from the
Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts, three tours in the
Chinese embassy in London, first secretary of the Sino-UK joint liaison
group for the takeover of Hong Kong, director-general of the Chinese
foreign ministry, and ambassador in South Africa from 2007 to 2012. He
is a Very Big Deal.
He would probably have been the first official in Beijing alerted when
Zuma fired Nhlanhla Nene last December 9 and he would have immediately
alerted his minister and the head of the China Investment Corporation
(CIC), China’s sovereign wealth fund and ultimate owner of a 20% stake
in Standard Bank.
As I have tried, inadequately, to report here, the alarm in China
resulted in a call to Zuma’s office on the Friday evening. They were not
The Chinese (Xi and Zhong included) had just a few days earlier been in
South Africa for a China-Africa summit. For Zuma, it had been a pleasure
to host people he trusts completely.
The atmosphere was convivial and cheerful. But the news that Zhong woke
to in the early hours (Beijing time) of Thursday, December 10, would
have shaken him. Why?
China is in trouble as its economy slows down, its stock markets tumble,
and the yuan devalues due to locals and foreigners taking their money
offshore. This deterioration is a direct threat to Xi.
He has made economic reform (giving the markets greater control) a
priority as he at the same time represses internal dissent and
corruption. But his control depends on his reforms working and any
threat to Chinese economic interests is taken seriously.
Although Standard Bank is 20% owned by the Industrial and Commercial
Bank of China (ICBC), it in turn is owned by a state investment company
wholly owned by the CIC. Its first chief executive, in 2007, Lou Jiwei,
is now Xi’s finance minister.
The Chinese are Prussian about money and the CIC mission statements read
like an investment boot camp – “[we will] maximise returns for our
shareholder. . . fundamental to our responsibilities is to effectively
manage assets and make every investment a success”.
Nene’s sacking had a sufficiently startling effect on the Chinese for
the call to the Presidency in Pretoria, when it finally came, to be made
from the highest levels of the Chinese government.
Zhong would have had little trouble making that call happen. China has
about $35-billion (R556-billion) invested in South Africa and at a
stroke Zuma had taken a huge bite out of it.
The fate of Standard Bank in the immediate aftermath of the Nene
decision is instructive. By the Friday, not long before the Chinese made
their call, China’s most prestigious equity investment in Africa had
lost 22% of its market capitalisation as the JSE wilted.
At the intraday low on the Friday, Standard Bank’s market capitalisation
was down by R44.62-billion. It was too much.
The CIC had had a rough year, its mission statement notwithstanding. It
lost a ton of money in resources, especially in Canada and closed its
Toronto office in December.
But it had also spent good money strengthening Standard’s balance sheet
by buying out its subsidiaries in Russia, the UK and Argentina. And now
Like everyone else, Beijing saw what it saw: Zuma acting alone. That is
not what it wants from its premier African ally.
Discovering, as they have, that Zuma has feet of clay has wider
implications for the Chinese. While their investment in South Africa may
be large, it is dwarfed by the money Beijing has ploughed into the oil
business in Sudan.
Their return on that investment (estimates run north of $80-billion
(R1.3-trillion)) is almost zero. The oil has ended up in South Sudan and
the refinery is in the north and Zhong, uncharacteristically for the
Chinese government, has actually had to “interfere” in the politics of
the region to try to persuade its many warring parties at least to get
the oil moving.
Zuma is supposed to assist in this effort, which is why he helped
Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir escape arrest in South Africa last year.
But the South African help, which also involves Cyril Ramaphosa in South
Sudan, has been to little real effect.
Now, December 11, the Friday evening, with its prime investment in South
Africa tanking for no good reason, a phone call was made.
Whether or not it was decisive I’ve no idea. I still suspect the message
to Zuma from his own party leadership, particularly ANC treasurer and
fellow KwaZulu-Natal leader Zweli Mkhize, was decisive.
So, as Zuma begins one last effort to save himself from ignominy,
starting with his admission that he breached the constitution by
opposing the public protector’s injunction to pay for part of Nkandla,
and with his state of the nation address, be assured that the Chinese
are watching really closely. They thought they were buying into strength
and prudence here.
They want an alliance with a steady ship, not a circus.
More information about the Marxism