Zimbabwean newspaper exposes exactly what's going on

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Offline David Rothscum

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Zimbabwean newspaper exposes exactly what's going on
« on: March 26, 2009, 12:42:46 PM »
Zimbabwe at Centre of New U.S-China Cold War
http://www.talkzimbabwe.com/news/130/ARTICLE/4530/2009-03-25.html
Garikai Chengu - Opinion

Wed, 25 Mar 2009 12:20:00 +0000

THE simultaneous emergence of China as an economic powerhouse, and the gradual shift of power from west to east provides the inclusive Government with a unique opportunity to hasten economic recovery, by strengthening Sino-Zimbabwe economic relations, so as to use China as a counterweight to the traditional Anglo-American dominated stranglehold on the economy.

Appreciation for the nature of the Sino-American geopolitical power struggle for influence over Zimbabwe’s resources, as well as the strategic importance of Sino-Zimbabwe economic relations is needed in order to identify key areas which the government can build upon this relationship to accelerate economic recovery.

Geopolitics of Zimbabwe’s Natural Resources

Governments the world over appear to have two foreign policies: one sold to the public and one executed, no matter how devastating the latter may be in terms of blood and treasure.

With respect to Zimbabwe, the public foreign policy of the US indicates a genuine concern for human rights, the rule of law and good governance.

However, its executed foreign policy suggests that its concerns are rooted in Harare’s drive for indigenous control over economic levers; rejection of IMF and World Bank counter-developmental prescriptions; willingness to expend blood and treasure in a fellow African country to restore its peace and sovereignty; but above all else, the concerns are rooted in Harare’s mineral wealth and its economic pivot eastward, towards The Peoples’ Republic of China.     

Zimbabwe, like oil rich Sudan, is at the frontline of an undeclared Cold War over its strategic minerals, which include vast yet to be exploited coal-bed methane gas; the second largest platinum deposits in the world estimated at over $500 billion; huge coal reserves and immense hydroelectric power potential; as well as the geological treasure zone in the Great Dyke region, home to vast deposits of chromium, nickel, copper and gold to mention but a few.

China’s voracious appetite for these mineral resources has resulted in its disbursement to Zimbabwe of soft loans for economic development and no-strings-attached credit, which have left Washington’s usual ploy of IMF and World bank ‘reforms’ high and dry.

Government has used these loans and credits to invest in infrastructure including schools, clinics and transport routes. In direct contrast to typical IMF and World Bank reforms which require a cut in spending on the aforementioned infrastructure.

Why agree to voluntary lower your citizenry’s living standards on the back of exorbitant loans when you can receive virtually interest free loans aimed at investing in development and peoples living standards?

Beijing’s refusal to conform to the norms of imperialist African relations and its disregard for approval from the Bretton Woods institutions prior to dealing with Harare has left Washington smarting and with no choice other than to employ another economic weapon in its arsenal, that of ‘targeted’ sanctions.

However vociferously China may denounce these sanctions in public or private and however consistently it may oppose them at the UN Security Council, the simple fact is that a withdrawal of western corporate tentacles from Zimbabwe has only played into their hands. 

This US retreat has paved the way for China’s advance into its fifth largest trading partner in Africa that is strategically nestled between its two biggest African trading partners, namely Angola and South Africa.

Crucially for China, Zimbabwe also neighbours its flagship infrastructure project on the continent, a transcontinental railroad designed to link Tanzania’s port to oil rich Angola and copper filled Zambia.

Controlling China’s economic emergence, that has seen Sino-African trade balloon from $10 billion in 2000 to over $100 billion, has been an undeclared priority of US foreign policy.

So much so that emphasis has shifted from US development aid, which has been cut sharply for Sub-Sahara Africa, towards military aid that has spiked and the establishment of Africa Command, a military command with the rather ominous mandate to ‘professionalize the continent’s militaries to make them more effective’ 

This Sino-American geopolitical power struggle has most visibly played itself out at the UN Security Council where a US diplomat said of US-sponsored sanctions which included an arms embargo on Harare, that the US knew “that it would lose [the vote, but] it decided to proceed with the vote anyway, to force the Russians and eventually the Chinese to publicly take a stand in support of Mr. Mugabe.”

As the stage managed political theater was met with, what we now know in retrospect was phony moral ‘outrage’ aimed at Chinese ‘appeasement,’ Beijing and Harare were busy consummating an arms deal which had been months in the making, and those directing scenes in New York no doubt also had a hand in dramatic scenes at The Port of Durban. 

Despite such rare overt glimpses of the intractable power struggle in New York, the Big Apple is also home to a more subtle power relationship involving the increased issuing of US Treasury Securities, which form the bulk of China’s $1.7 trillion foreign currency reserves. The increased indebtedness of the US and the dollar panic Chinese authorities could easily bring about for political reasons, has signified a substantial shift of economic power from west to east.

Thus, despite the irony of China essentially helping to fund American activities abroad that are contra her national interests, such as the hundreds of millions the US spends annually on Tibet, this funding means that unlike the last Cold War, China is engaging with vastly more assets, and the US is engaging at a time when its hard and soft power is depleted, as evidenced by its overstretched military and overextended banks.

This simultaneous dissolution of Anglo-American hegemony and substantial increase in China’s relative economic power provides the inclusive Government a great opportunity to engage in realpolitik of its own. It allows Zimbabwe to use China as a political and economic counterweight to the one-sided Anglo-American domination of her economy.

This can be done by strengthening the Look East policy and Sino-Zimbabwe relations in particular, whilst seeking to restore previously burnt bridges that lead westward.

Strategic Importance of Sino-Zimbabwe Relations

Much emphasis has been put on the need to reengage Bretton Woods institutions and détente with the West, and rightly so, but this rapprochement must occur in simultaneity with a strengthening of economic ties with China, which has become of great geostrategic importance to Zimbabwe on various fronts.

Firstly, China has replaced western countries as the investor with the fastest foreign direct investment growth in Zimbabwe, and the foreign direct investment which Zimbabwe is so desperately in need of is more likely to come from an economy that is continuing to grow at a rapid pace, than from those which are seeking assistance from it.

Similarly, the scope for increased export opportunities offered by the ever-expanding Chinese economy and the fact that China is the single most important importer of Zimbabwean tobacco is of great importance.
 
Secondly, Beijing’s propensity to give interest-free loans and grants to Zimbabwe for different infrastructure development projects is of increasing importance as western donors continue to ‘wait and see’ and the infrastructure portion of the budget is slashed.

These Chinese loans and grants amounted to more than $8 billion to Nigeria, Angola and Mozambique, compared to the $2.3 billion by the World Bank to the entire Sub-Saharan African region last year. Therefore, as important as IMF and World Bank approval is as an indicator for investors and countries alike, the deepest pockets are found in the east.

Thirdly, economic sanctions on Zimbabwe have resulted in increased reliance on China for imports of telecommunications, road-building, irrigation and farming equipment and many other critical items it can no longer import from the west, which in turn has resulted in over 40 Chinese companies operating in Zimbabwe.

Finally, Chinese authorities’ associations with Zimbabwe’s Liberation Struggle and subsequent cordial political relations have resulted in a crucial formation of an ideological alliance with a permanent member of the UN Security Council.

These cordial political relations are behind China’s latest policy initiative, which will “establish and develop a new type of strategic partnership with Zimbabwe, featuring political equality and mutual trust, economic win-win cooperation and cultural exchange.”

This creates an opportune time for government to strengthen Sino-Zimbabwean relations across key sectors whilst relations with the West begin to thaw.

Strengthening Sino-Zimbabwe Economic Relations

Sectors in which Sino-Zimbabwe co-operation can be strengthened include agriculture, mining, tourism and energy.

With respect to agriculture, China’s Premier said of the land democratization process that ‘’China respects and supports efforts by Zimbabwe to bring about social justice through land reform.”  The support China has provided has been primarily in the form of the supply of low-cost agricultural equipment.

This supply can be increased to allow lower-cost entry into the international market, particularly for those newly resettled farmers who will certainly be looking to expand operations and revert back to extensive farming from the intensive farming currently favoured by government. China’s high demand for Zimbabwean tobacco should also result in priority being given to tobacco contract growing projects.

The tourism sector is another important sector for Sino-Zimbabwe relations and Chinese visitors to Zimbabwe now constitute the third most important national contingent and form almost 10% of total visitors.

Zimbabwe’s efforts to revive the ailing tourism industry had been given a big boost by China’s conferral of Approved Destination status on the nation, which provides great business opportunities for airlines, hotels and other tourist operators.  This status, coupled with the over 50,000 annual Chinese visitors to South Africa creates a wide scope for expansion in light of the possibility of package deals.

Efficient transport routes and reliable energy supplies have been identified as two key areas that must be revived for tourism to flourish and Zimbabwe can wean itself off its dependence on imports for 40 % of its domestic consumption of electricity, at a monthly cost of $45 million, by continuing to take advantage of low cost solar energy equipment from China, in line with recent policy pronouncements under the STERP.

Zimbabwe has also sought to reduce its dependence on electricity imports by encouraging Chinese and Zimbabwean energy companies to form partnerships and recently China’s National Aero-Technology Import and Export Corporation (CATIC) and China North Industries Corporation (NORINCO) have agreed to finance multi-billion dollar expansion projects by ZESA and Hwange Colliery Company, respectively.

Concerning the mining sector, which has also been affected by fly-by-night electricity supplies, China’s insatiable desire for raw materials is underscored by the signing of several cooperation and trade agreements centered primarily on iron, steel, chrome and platinum. As the reliability of energy and transport routes is improved these deals will be fully consummated and begin to bear fruit.

The simultaneous recent increase in lines of credit at Chinese banks, for mining companies and small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) across industries that include textile, tile, soap and fiberglass manufacturers as well as the substantial quantities of low cost textiles and clothing from China sold at retail prices well below the prices of local substitutes, should help to dampen inflation in the short term, without too greatly compromising the viability of local industries over the long-term.

Thus, regardless of previous international alliances and rivalries which various parties to the government may have had, it is time for the government to engage in serious realpolitik of its own, and hasten economic recovery by simultaneously strengthening Sino-Zimbabwe economic relations and working on rapprochement with the west, whilst strategically realigning the economy, from a vastly Anglo-American orientated one to a more geostrategically balanced economy, allowing Zimbabwe a greater say in how its resources are used and ultimately her destiny.


_____________
Garikai Chengu is an African and African American Research Institute Fellow at Harvard University. He can be contacted via: chengu@fas.harvard.edu.
The views expressed herein are those of Mr. Chengu and do not necessary express those of the institute.

Offline David Rothscum

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Re: Zimbabwean newspaper exposes exactly what's going on
« Reply #1 on: March 26, 2009, 12:57:15 PM »
http://www.talkzimbabwe.com/news/120/ARTICLE/4539/2009-03-26.html

n/a  •  n/a
Subject: China
Thu, 26 Mar 2009 13:23:25 • The US has to accept the historic fact that all empires eventually fall and that its world domination is coming to an end. Power is shifting slowly but surely from West to East. The US is too much indebted to China for its rantings to make much of a difference. China is beginning to flex its muscle and has “thrown down a challenge to America’s 50-year dominance of the global economy as it proposes replacing the dollar as the world’s main reserve currency with a new global system under the control of the International Monetary Fund.” The Chinese are proposing the replacement of the US dollar by a “Special Drawing Right (SDR) , which is a qausi-currency that was created in 1969.” Maybe China is alarmed that its large reserves held in US dollars might come to nought since the US dollar is backed by nothing but thin air.
Link at: (China challenges power of the dollar as it flexes its economic muscles
March 24, 2009)
http://business.timesonline.co.uk/tol/business/economics/article5963370

If the US dollar is replaced by the SDR as the world’s main reserve currency, surely this can only mean the demise of US dominance of the world economy. Hopefully Zimbabwe and the world is following such developments with interest because we do not want to end up holding dud US dollars.
It is quite clear that the countries that the US is gunning for in the 21st century are China and Russia because these are the two countries that are really a threat to its world dominance. The US is very unhappy that China is making in roads in Africa . Zimbabwe, unfortunately is caught up in this Sino-US conflict and is being used as cannon fodder in this battle. All this US posturing about human rights in Zimbabwe etc is just a smoke screen for this Sino-US battle. Even the conflict in Sudan is pretence to deny China access to Sudan's oil which makes up 18% of China's oil requirements. How can the US refer to Zimbabwe as unstable? Zimbabwe has had more than 28 years of stability and any instability to date has been induced by the US and its allies’ imposition of illegal sanctions meant to destabilise the country and impoverish its people. The fight between the US and Zimbabwe has everything to do with land reforms, US geo-political interests in the region (i.e. keep China out) and unfettered access to Zimbabwe’s resources and markets. To some gullible Zimbabweans, this neo-colonial project is being sold as return to democracy, rule of law, human rights, property rights , freedom of association, freedom of the press etc to give it a local flavour and impetus. McGee (the US Ambassador to Zimbabwe) is at the forefront of the re-packaging of this neo-colonial project and selling it to the natives so that the natives think Uncle Sam is fighting for their interests not knowing that Uncle Sam is fighting for its interests ONLY. The US has permanent interests and never permanent friends.

Mike Philbin

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Re: Zimbabwean newspaper exposes exactly what's going on
« Reply #2 on: March 26, 2009, 01:02:38 PM »
the USA/China Cold War, heh?

that's not on MY Nightly News

funny that

 ::)

Offline David Rothscum

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Re: Zimbabwean newspaper exposes exactly what's going on
« Reply #3 on: March 26, 2009, 01:20:44 PM »
the USA/China Cold War, heh?

that's not on MY Nightly News

funny that

 ::)
Geopolitics is for conspiracy theorists. Our media understand there are more important things to cover, take a look at today's most read article on Fox News for example:
http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,510601,00.html

Mike Philbin

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Re: Zimbabwean newspaper exposes exactly what's going on
« Reply #4 on: March 26, 2009, 01:27:23 PM »
Geopolitics is for conspiracy theorists. Our media understand there are more important things to cover, take a look at today's most read article on Fox News for example:
http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,510601,00.html

did you just bait 'n' switch me mo-fo?

 :D