Hu charms Africa

Continuing his efforts to create a new world order with China at the helm, Hu Jintao is saying all the right things to his friends in Africa.

China wants a “strategic partnership” with Africa, President Hu Jintao said on Thursday, seeking to add a new political dimension to a blossoming economic romance. In a speech to Nigerian lawmakers, Hu underlined China’s respect for African “independence and sovereignty,” which analysts said was a deliberate contrast with the United States’ interventionist diplomacy under George W. Bush.

“I would like to propose … (to) strengthen political mutual trust,” Hu, dressed in a business suit and tie, told a packed assembly in the Nigerian capital. “Let us seize the opportunity and … endeavor to forge a new type of strategic partnership between China and Africa.”

Hu made the address during a two-day state visit to Africa’s top oil producer and most populous nation, the latest stop on a world tour that includes the United States, Saudi Arabia, Morocco and Kenya. Analysts said Hu’s offer of an alternative to the United States’ prescriptive foreign policy and “War on Terror” would be welcomed by African leaders.

“China is saying it wants to build a new world order based on consensus and tolerance, not the clash of civilizations,” said former foreign minister Bola Akinyemi. “It is bound to resonate in Africa, where we have 900 years of coexistence between Christianity, Islam and traditional religions.”

Score another one for Mr. Bush. His inane “War on Terror” is chasing other countries away from us and into China’s arms. And certainly give Mr. Hu a star; he has set his foreign policy goals and is achieving them, even as the US stumbles, caught up in the mess of a hysterical pseudo-war on terror that’s made us radioactive to all. And amid the fallout, Hu is stepping in and filling the gap, a case study in shrewd opportunism.

The Discussion: 15 Comments

digression, when did “duck pond” start?
I check here almost everyday, but found pond today only because a mouse-error click. Wow, richard, you hide a feast! (maybe that link is too small?)

April 28, 2006 @ 5:06 am | Comment

It’s been up for a long time – there’s a big photo right on top of the blog’s home page, and I’m sorry to hear you never spotted it before. Maybe I should end every post with a signature line telling people about the forum….

April 28, 2006 @ 5:57 am | Comment

Hello, Richard. I’m a student in a college in Nanjing, China. I’m sorry my English is so poor that I can’t express myself very well. I reads you posts every day when I first enter your blog about 6 mouths ago. And I like your blog very much. As a young boy, I need to hear another voice. I don’t want to be a fool. And I hates to be treated like fool. Your blog is like fresh air to my life.
Today, when I click your site in my blog’s blogroll as usuaral, I found it connot connect. I tried many times, and all failed. I am very sad and angry. I thought your site is banned in China, you know they are used to do such things.
But I don’t know why, I can enter your blog now! I feel so happy. But I still think that your blog will be blocked in China sooner or later because they have stepped up their efforts in recent months to control not only the internet but other media too.
So I write those words, maybe it’s the last chance, I just want to tell you that you mean a lot for me and thousand people in China. Thank You!!!

April 28, 2006 @ 2:14 pm | Comment

tom, good english, keep it up 🙂

April 28, 2006 @ 4:19 pm | Comment

Tom this site was hit by a major hack attack yesterdsay and was done the entire night. It looks like we”re back.

April 28, 2006 @ 7:45 pm | Comment

The US has some unsavory friends but everywhere I look in the world today, behind every hideous murderous manical regime, China is right there. From North Korea to Sudan China is right there, cheering on the torturers and mass murderers for no other reasons than money and simply to oppose the US, which occassionally does the right thing by standing against these regimes.

For years the US supported some ugly governments in the developing world and has reaped what it has sown. There is, and always has been a lot of anti-American sentiment in the developing world. But the US still has some friends in the developing world, nations and individuals who have been impressed with American willingness to once in a while put life, limb and treasure on the line for something more than narrow self interest.

What will happen to China in it’s relations with Africa? Eventually, there will be some blowback of the kind that America has faced. But blowback against America is tempered by past good deeds and America’s having stood for principles of freedom, democracy and improving the lives of others. What does China stand for in the world? As near as I can tell, just China’s own selfishness and greed.

So endith the high minded rant.

April 28, 2006 @ 8:44 pm | Comment

What China is doing absolutely devoid of idealism but it is effective and in the interest of the Chinese people.

What the US is doing reminds of Mao’s policy in the 60’s of spreading revolution in the world.

Although China does business with all these unsavory characters, I don’t think China actively supports them. China has never gone as far as regime change or suppression of the opposition. Frankly I don’t think China cares what government is in power as long as it is stable for business.

Even if let say a new democractic government rises in the Sudan, the new government would still do business with China. For example, Cambodia is still a top ally of China.

Ultimately I think China wants these governments to be civil but purely for the self interest of stability to do business. In the mean time they are willing to sign more business contracts.

If the US is smart they should reevaluate the failure of their foreign policy. Nothing puts me off more then hearing Americans talk high and mighty about your mission to save the world with your superior western values. Examine the tone of Peking Duck and I am sure you will know what I am talking about. I am sure the Africans, the Arabs and the Russians know what I am talking about.

I know the faults of my government. However, if the US badger us about human rights, common Chinese folks like myself are just more tempted to ignore these abuses. Change has to come from the inside, thus what China is doing, helping these countries develop economically, ironically, might ultimately accomplish some of America’s goals.

April 28, 2006 @ 10:47 pm | Comment

The info I see points in a different direction, Chinesedude. Rather, China is signing deals to buy raw materials mostly. Buying raw materials is good for injecting money into those African economies. However, it does nothing to promote development in those countries. In other words, buying finished goods helps establish and promote a whole range of local industries and creates domestic employment. That type of trade would be quite valuable to Africa. Unfortunately, buying oil and raw materials doesn’t bring the same benefits. I have read of the same issue in regards to Latin America. The day may come when those countries realize that they are involved in trade arrangements that benefit the Chinese more than them.

I am obviously not an expert on Latin America or Africa, so if someone has something to add, I welcome it. But it seems naive to me to say at such an early stage that China is helping African countries develop economically.

April 28, 2006 @ 11:29 pm | Comment


Just doing business with unsavory regimes IS enough to produce blowback eventually. That’s what the US has discovered over the years. China is only at the beginning of doing business with these guys.

Nearly every oppressive regime in the world has some kind of violent opposition either trying to overthrow it or get its voice heard. If you’re doing business with the government, eventually you have to take sides. Especially since the government will probably want to buy weapons from you to help put down it’s revolutionary movement (why not, since your two regimes are so buddy buddy anyway, it’s an easy step to take). Pretty soon you’re suffering from the diplomatic/public relations version of what the US military calls “mission creep,” getting in deeper and deeper into other peoples problems to protect what you think are your interests. Sure, China hasn’t invaded anybody, (unless you count Korea and Vietnam as somebody) to protect it’s interests yet, but it’s interests in Africa and elsewhere are only just starting to develop.

It’s so tempting, by just selling the ugly regime a few weapons, or giving them some intelligence, you can cut yourself a better business deal for your industries. If the regime is hated by the people, they will remember who it was who supported their enemy. And when the dictator is overthrown (they always are, it’s just a matter of time) the people remember who was so good to their enemy. America knows all about this (Iran, Latin America, etc>). China will discover the joys of blowback over the next 20 or 30 years. I’d put good money on it.

April 28, 2006 @ 11:48 pm | Comment

Check your timeline a bit, Richard.

The Chinese expansion of investments and exchanges in Africa really began to take off in the 1990s, and has flourished most in pariah states the West doesn’t want to touch, which have, among other things, been supported by China in UN votes going back to the late 1990s. Blame Bush for a lot of things, but the War on Terror (which is really shorthand for the War in Iraq) isn’t driving these African states into China’s arms, it’s like-minded authoritarianism between leaders in Africa and leaders in Beijing.

Although, if you want to blame someone else in America for the African tilt towards China, you might want to look at the bipartisan coalition of Senators and Representatives who have gutted any and all attempts to expand trade between the US and Africa starting in the Clinton administration with AGOA and continuing to this day. Admittedly, the Bush administration should have fought for increased trade, but starting with Rove’s protectionist calculus during the 2002 midterms, the administration has been an obscenely weak proponent of free trade. However, ultimately, it’s the people in the capitol owned by the textile industry and unions, respectively, who have authored the legislation that denied the US a chance for closer economic ties with Africa, and therefore have weakened American soft power throughout the continent.

Finally, the final quote in the excerpt you chose is particularly disingenuous on the part of the speaker given the nature of “coexistence” between Nigerian Christians and Muslims, which has meant the slaughter of thousands. Is China’s “message of tolerance” (there is no such message, of course, just a message of amorality) going to stop sectarian Nigerians from butchering one another in periodic spasms of violence? Did his job as foreign minister mean Mr. Bola was completely tuned out to domestic developments?

April 29, 2006 @ 1:08 am | Comment

Chinese merchants are allready quite unpoular among the Senegalese merchants as shortly after their arrival they started to flood the market there with cheep imports from China. Consumers are quite happy though.

April 29, 2006 @ 2:19 am | Comment

China Matters.

April 29, 2006 @ 3:50 am | Comment

Matthew, I never said Bush’s policies drove China into the arms of the Africans. But I do believe the offical in the article has a point, that Bush has made America so radioactive with our interventionist diplomacy that China is seen as something of a savior, at least by some (especially the creepy ones). Everything Clinton did, by the way, was noble and just.

April 29, 2006 @ 3:58 am | Comment

I was in Tanzania last summer and there are a ton of Chinese workers building roads, railroads…basic infrastructure. So it is not just China buying all the natural resources. I don’t care all much you hate your government, if another country is willing to help domestically with building roads, you appreciate it.

Sorry Buddha, I just don’t see it happening. What ever new government that arises will likely continue the economic ties. It is not in their interest to cut off this business just for spite.

Again I refer to the case of Cambodia, probability the worst example of Chinese support of a foreign government. However, even in that case, after the fall of the Pol Pot, Cambodia remains a top Chinese ally.

Even if in a hypothetical case of equal support of a bad regime by China or the US, it is likely there will be much more resentment of the US then China. I don’t know why that is case exactly, but there is something that China is right and something the US is doing wrong.

However, I admit China has no strong friends willing to let say fight with China in case of war. But, China really has no enemies either.

April 29, 2006 @ 5:03 pm | Comment

China gets a quarter of its oil from Africa!

April 30, 2006 @ 5:42 pm | Comment

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