Under the colonial enterprise, the British and their rival European powers knew only one way to grab resources—entering other people’s worlds and plundering their resources. That colonial enterprise was motivated by nothing but greed and a heartless exploitation and subjugation of other people, including those in the United States.
As if oblivious to its own past, the US has also latched on to the imperialist agenda, doing things in a more brazen manner even if it doesn’t directly exploit other systems as European imperialism did. On the surface, the US “gives” instead of “taking,” which makes a huge difference between its form of imperialism and the European one. However, it has its own nauseating aspects.
US imperialism may not involve direct occupation of territories and subjugation of the citizens; but it has its own dimensions, which eventually portrays it as self-centred too. The US prosecutes its imperialist agenda in a more subtle way—through its military-industrial complex, which provides the wherewithal it needs to survive. That’s why wherever the US goes, it either ruffles feathers to provoke a military conflict or to worsen an existing one.
That’s how it creates conditions to inject itself into conflicts and rely on its military-industrial complex’s operations for wealth. No conflict means no need for weapons—and no money from the sale of armaments. The US can’t do without income from its military-industrial complex. That is why it is all over the globe, invited or uninvited into territories, abandoning its mission only if it faces so stiff an opposition as to see its interests endangered or deserting after satisfying its interests, regardless of the impact of its presence and activities on such territories. We have Iraq and Libya in mind as concrete examples in our contemporary time.
Here is the knot to untie. While the US and its allies are complaining about Chinese incursion into Africa, they’ve failed to understand why African countries are receiving the Chinese with open arms while hesitating to continue being in bed with them. History may be on the side of China, especially if one considers the fact that most African countries had to fight for independence from the European countries and still view the colonizers with much suspicion. At least, China is not encroaching on territories by force of superior arms.
Their decision to belong to the Non-Aligned Movement, which invariably was an indication of disdain for the West (because most of those African member-states of the NAM had a soft spot for the erstwhile USSR and China) is enough to tell me that they will be more prone to accept China’s incursion than rebuff it.
For now, there is every indication that more countries will open their doors to China and shift emphasis to the economic cooperation that it promises. Which of the countries in the West talks about economic cooperation and goes ahead to give unconditional aid to the needy countries?
I am not surprised at this turn of events because for far too long, the West and its main economic institution (the IMF) and lending arm (the World Bank) have interfered with the economies of African countries, imposing stiff conditionalities before giving loans at cut-throat rates. After experimenting with such economies and toying with the lives of the people over the years, the IMF and its affiliates seem not prepared to change their policies to accommodate the needs and interests of these poor countries.
Not wanting to be at the mercy of these vampire institutions, these African countries will turn to China—at least, in the short-term—as their saviour. That is where the West chafes but is not prepared to shift in its stance. These poor countries seem to have lost confidence in the IMF and its affiliates and will go wherever the clarion call comes from. That’s why China has become a magnet attracting them.
No amount of threats or arm-twisting tactics will change the situation. The West had better learn to adjust to this new reality. Once China knows how to reach out to these countries, it will continue to carve deep into the heart of the continent and establish itself as a partner.
In receiving the Chinese with open arms, though, our African leaders need to be alert so as not to fail to see anything—however slight it may be—that raises red flags. There are always more hidden aspects of economic partnerships than this brazen openness on the part of the Chinese may reveal on the surface. Those who have eyes will see these hidden aspects and we encourage our leaders to probe deeper to be able to detect any hidden danger spot to avoid offering the continent to be swallowed up.
We don’t want a repetition of the situation whereby our leaders will hasten into selling us to any foreign power only for posterity to shed blood, sweat, and tears to fight against. We’ve been bitten more than once and should be more than shy in dealing with those who choose to respect us just because we have what they need to survive.
By Dr. Michael J.K. Bokor