[Marxism] Fwd: Anthropologist Jane Goodall: China is pillaging Africa like an old colonial power

Patrick Bond 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.


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