China vs. UN goals in Africa
Africa has been a major focus of the MDG as it is the poorest continent where the UN reports a majority of people live on $1.25 a day or less. And according to the World Bank, Africa is making the slowest progress in reaching the MDG targets.
Striding into Africa is China with a very different agenda. Overlapping the UN MDG summit is the Africa Aerospace and Defence tri-service exhibition near Cape Town, South Africa which runs from Sept. 21-25. Chinese defense companies have taken a sizeable portion of the exhibition space. According to a report in the September 13 issue of Defense News (subscribers only),
China's aggressive posture at the defense show reflects its broader strategies in Africa, where it has become a much more active supplier of arms.
China is providing opportunities for African nations to procure arms and equipment with soft loans, and in some cases arms, in exchange for access to resources, such as oil and natural gas. There also is interest in strategic minerals, a market China has been securing around the world.
There have been complaints from governments and human rights organizations about Chinese arms sales to and support for the governments of Sudan and Zimbabwe, which have been accused of human rights violations. China appears reluctant to hear complaints and is oblivious to United Nations sanctions.
Beijing's closest ties in Africa are with Sudan. In March 2008, the International Criminal Court charged Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir with war crimes and crimes against humanity. In July of this year, the charges were expanded to include genocide for acts committed during the ongoing civil war in Darfur where is it alleged that 400,000 people have died.
China has made investments in African development, but mainly transportation infrastructure projects that will facilitate the extraction and export of raw materials. Beijing pays for the resources needed by Chinese industry with arms for friendly regimes and manufactured goods that keep Africa in the old pattern of dependent colonial trade.
While the MDG is based on the notion that the 21st century will be a more enlightened era of global cooperation, Beijing believes the world has not changed and the realpolitick practices of the past are still what serve its interests best. There seems to be little happening in Africa than would prove Chinese strategists wrong.