China’s influence on African infrastructure and politics

By: Toby Martin-Kohls

In an era such as now, geopolitics are becoming more and more important and in the spotlight. An easy example of current events is the Russia-Ukraine conflict.

China has, and does, use its money and resources to influence global politics.

What is global politics? The United Nations. The United Nations is an organization founded after WWII, and per their website: “The one place on Earth where all the world’s nations can gather together, discuss common problems, and find shared solutions that benefit all of humanity.” Each of the 193 member states has a representative that has a vote in any resolutions that are brought forward.

Today, only 15 countries recognize the Republic of China, which is also known as Taiwan. Both countries claim that they are the rightful owner of all of China. Since there can only be one representative per member state, the U.N. held a vote in 1971 to decide which country would be given a representative. At the time, the U.S. officially recognized Taiwan, so for the vote, it was essentially the United States’ sphere of influence against the world.

Now we can relate this back to Africa. China ended up winning the resolution vote, but what we are looking at is which African countries voted for who in 1971. The Central African Republic, Chad, Gabon, Liberia, Niger, South Africa, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Madagascar, and Ivory Coast all voted with the United States for Taiwan to represent both the mainland and the island at the United Nations.

Fast forward to 2007 and the U.N. is holding a vote on whether to condemn human rights violations in North Korea. North Korea has few allies, but China is a big supporter because they share some of the same values. Again, like the previous vote mentioned earlier, this time it was China’s sphere of influence against the world.

The only African countries that voted to condemn North Korea were: Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea: Ghana, Kenya, Lesotho, Burundi, Liberia, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritania, and Tanzania. The rest of the 43 African countries voted with China or abstained.

This is a product of China using its power to build infrastructure in low developed African countries.

China’s GDP (Gross Domestic Product) has grown rapidly since the 1960s and 70s. It has made the shift from an industrializing country to an industrialized country.

Africa, however, has some of the world’s fastest-growing economies. In April 2021, Nasdaq predicted Libya to be the fastest growing economy of 2021.

In Africa, there are around 10,000 Chinese-owned businesses and construction companies worth over $2 trillion. In 2017, Chinese companies obtained roughly half of all engineering, construction, and procurement contracts on the African continent.

China has used its resources to foster relationships with the countries of Africa and make them allies. Given the current events of Ukraine and Russia, these decisions could make a difference in the years to come. Hopefully, China does not decide to forcefully take over Taiwan. Based on the relationships they’ve fostered in Africa, they could have access to any number of resources outside the country.

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