Global Connections Edition
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Labor Article

Beyond the U.S.: Geopolitics and Competition for Resources

As China continues to grow, its demand for energy and raw materials has sent it scouring the globe for resources and driving up the price of everything from oil to minerals. At the same time, China’s growing investment in Africa and its establishment of trade with countries deemed unfriendly by the United States has also become a source of concern to the U.S. The issue of Darfur, and China’s reluctance to use its influence to stop the genocide there, is a case in point. China invests heavily in Sudan from which it buys most of that country’s oil. The Darfur issue, according to Philip Stephens of the Ft.com Financial Times (February 14, 2008), “point up China’s long–term strategic dilemma: how to balance its rapid integration into the international economic system with its determination to preserve its autonomy in domestic and foreign affairs.”

Victor Kasongo, the Congo’s most powerful mining official, takes another view of the Chinese versus the Westerns and European who criticize them: “Put the Chinese in the bush and they survive with a bowl of rice. Europeans cost us too much. They need a satellite dish to watch rugby, casinos for the weekend. The Chinese just work, like soldiers.” (Conversation with Richard Behar reported on May 9, 2008; FastCompany.com)

Below is one example of China’s overseas expansion—in Africa. Latin America, Canada, Australia, and other regions are also part of China’s overall energy development strategy to meet its rising energy needs.

China’s Investment in Africa

January 2006 - CNOOC, China’s top oil producer, agrees to pay $2.3 billion for a stake in the Nigerian oil and gas field.

April 2006 - CNOOC, led by President Hu Jintao, concludes an offshore exploration deal with Kenya; a $4 billion deal for drilling licenses in Nigeria was struck just two days earlier. In exchange, the Chinese will establish economic and technical cooperation, provide anti-malarial medicine and rice.

November 2006 - China and Africa sign agreements worth a total of $1.5 billion at an African nations summit in Beijing. Hu also pledges $5 billion and loans and credit, and doubling aid by 2009.

February 2007 - Multimillion dollar accords are signed with Cameroon, Liberia, Sudan, and Zambia, Namibia, South Africa, Mozambique and the Seychelles.

September 2007 - Shenzhen Energy Investment plans to team up with an African development fund to build a 200-megawatt gas-fired plant in Ghana; the fund was launched with capital of $1 billion from China.

September 2007 - Congo gets a $5 billion loan and infrastructure development package, which includes $3 billion highway and railroad project linking the mineral-rich interior to the South and to Atlantic shipping routes.

October 2007 - The Industrial and Commercial Bank of China will pay $5.6 billion for 20 percent of South Africa’s Standard Bank, the biggest foreign purchase by a Chinese commercial bank.

Source: David Cutler, writing for the Reuters AlertNet (February 13, 2008)
see: http://www.alertnet.org/